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Virginia amends remote work requirements
On March 26, the Virginia governor signed HB 2389, which permits mortgage lenders and mortgage brokers to allow employees and exclusive agents to work remotely provided certain conditions are met. Requirements to conduct business out of a remote location include: (i) the establishment of written policies and procedures for remote work supervision; (ii) ensuring access to platforms and customer information adheres to the licensee’s comprehensive written information security plan; (iii) the employment of appropriate risk-based monitoring and oversight processes, as well as the agreement from employees or exclusive agents who will work remotely to comply with these established practices; (iv) banning in-person customer interaction at an employee’s or exclusive agent’s residence unless the residence is an approved office; (v) the proper maintenance of physical records; (vi) compliance with federal and state security requirements when engaging in customer interactions and conversations; (vii) access to the licensee’s secure systems via a virtual private network or comparable system with password protection; (viii) the installation and maintenance of security updates, patches, or other alterations; (ix) “the ability to remotely lock or erase company-related contents of any device or otherwise remotely limit access to a licensee’s secure systems"; and (x) the designation of the principal place of business as the mortgage loan originator’s registered location for the purposes of the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry record, “unless such mortgage loan originator elects an office as a registered location.” The amendments also add definitions for “office” and “remote location.” The Act is effective July 1.
Virginia credit unions may engage in virtual currency custody services
On March 23, the Virginia governor signed HB 1727, which amends the Virginia code to allow credit unions operating in the commonwealth to engage in virtual currency custody services, provided the credit union “has adequate protocols in place to effectively manage risks and comply with applicable laws and, prior to offering virtual currency custody services, the credit union has carefully examined the risks in offering such services through a methodical self-assessment process.” The amendments stipulate that in order to engage in such services, a credit union must implement effective risk management systems and controls, confirm adequate insurance coverage, and maintain a service provider oversight program.
The amendments further provide that a credit union may offer such services in a fiduciary or nonfiduciary capacity; however, in order to provide virtual currency custody services in a fiduciary capacity, the credit union must first obtain approval from the State Corporation Commission. Commission approval is contingent upon a credit union having sufficient capital structure to support providing such services, credit union personnel being adequately trained to ensure compliance with governing laws and regulations, and that granting such authority is in the public interest. The amendments are effective July 1.
CFPB: TILA does not preempt state laws on commercial financial disclosure
On March 28, the CFPB issued a determination that state disclosure laws covering lending to businesses in California, New York, Utah, and Virginia are not preempted by TILA. The preemption determination confirms a preliminary determination issued by the Bureau in December, in which the agency concluded that the states’ statutes regulate commercial financing transactions and not consumer-purpose transactions (covered by InfoBytes here). The Bureau explained that a number of states have recently enacted laws requiring improved disclosure of information contained in commercial financing transactions, including loans to small businesses. A written request was sent to the Bureau requesting a preemption determination involving certain disclosure provisions in TILA. While Congress expressly granted the Bureau authority to evaluate whether any inconsistencies exist between certain TILA provisions and state laws and to make a preemption determination, the statute’s implementing regulations require the agency to request public comments before making a final determination. In making its preliminary determination last December, the Bureau concluded that the state and federal laws do not appear “contradictory” for preemption purposes, and that “differences between the New York and Federal disclosure requirements do not frustrate these purposes because lenders are not required to provide the New York disclosures to consumers seeking consumer credit.”
After considering public comments following the preliminary determination, the Bureau again concluded that “[s]tates have broad authority to establish their own protections for their residents, both within and outside the scope of [TILA].” In affirming that the states’ commercial financing disclosure laws do not conflict with TILA, the Bureau emphasized that “commercial financing transactions to businesses—and any disclosures associated with such transactions—are beyond the scope of TILA’s statutory purposes, which concern consumer credit.”
4th Circuit affirms certification of class action in tribal lending case
On January 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concluded that a district court did not abuse its discretion when certifying a class action. The lawsuit alleges an individual who orchestrated an online payday lending scheme violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), engaged in unjust enrichment, and violated Virginia’s usury law by partnering with federally-recognized tribes to issue loans with allegedly usurious interest rates. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) The plaintiffs alleged the defendant partnered with the tribes to circumvent state usury laws even though the tribes did not control the lending operation. The district court stated that, as there was “no substantive involvement” by the tribes in the lending operation and that the evidence showed that the defendant was “functionally in charge,” the lending operation—which allegedly charged interest rates exceeding Virginia’s 12 percent interest cap—could not claim tribal immunity.
After the district court certified two borrower classes, the defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that “[b]orrowers entered into enforceable loan agreements with lending entities in which they waived their right to bring class claims against him,” and that “common issues do not predominate so as to permit class treatment in this case.” Specifically, the defendant claimed that his role in the lending operations changed throughout the class period, and that individualized “proof” and “tracing” would be necessary to prove that he “participated in the direction of the affairs of the alleged enterprise” or that he received some portion of each borrower’s interest payments.
On appeal, the 4th Circuit disagreed with the defendant’s assertions. It found no reason to question the district court’s conclusion that the defendant was the “de facto” head of the lending operations throughout the class period. “And the fact that [the defendant] served as the ‘de facto head’ of the lending operations for the entire class period supports the district court’s determination that the Borrowers will be able to use common proof to show that [the defendant] ‘participated in the direction of the’ lending operations such that common questions predominate over individual questions[,]” the appellate court stated. The 4th Circuit further concluded that the “record supports the district court’s conclusion that [the defendant] lied when he said he was never involved in receiving or demanding payments on [the lending operation’s] loans.”
Virginia enacts additional consumer data protections
On April 11, the Virginia governor signed legislation enacting additional amendments to the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA). Both bills take effect July 1.
HB 714 (identical bill SB 534) expands the definition of a nonprofit organization to include political and certain tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations, thus exempting them from the VCDPA’s provisions. The bill also abolishes the Consumer Privacy Fund and provides that all civil penalties, expenses, and attorney fees collected from enforcement of the VCDPA shall be deposited into the Regulatory, Consumer Advocacy, Litigation, and Enforcement Revolving Trust Fund. Under Section 59.1-584, the attorney general has exclusive authority to enforce the law and seek penalties of no more than $7,500 per violation should a controller or processor of consumer personal data continue to violate the VCDPA following a 30-day cure period, or breach an express written statement provided to the attorney general that the alleged violations have been cured.
HB 381 amends VCDPA provisions related to consumers’ data deletion requests. Specifically, the amendment provides that a controller that has obtained a consumer’s personal data from a third party “shall be deemed in compliance with a consumer’s request to delete such data . . . by either (i) retaining a record of the deletion request and the minimum data necessary for the purpose of ensuring the consumer’s personal data remains deleted from the business’s records and not using such retained data for any other purpose . . . or (ii) opting the consumer out of the processing of such personal data for any purpose except for those exempted pursuant” to the VCDPA.
As previously covered by InfoBytes, the VCDPA was enacted last year to establish a framework for controlling and processing consumers’ personal data in the Commonwealth. The VCDPA, which explicitly prohibits a private right of action, allows consumers to access their personal data; make corrections; request deletion of their data; obtain a copy of their data in a portable format; and opt out of targeted advertising, sale of their data, or “profiling in furtherance of decisions that produce legal or similarly significant effects concerning the consumer.”
Virginia and Tennessee specify automatic renewal cancellation requirements
On April 11, the Virginia governor signed HB 78, which relates to automatic renewal or continuous service offers to consumers. The bill, among other things, requires that suppliers of automatic renewals or continuous service offers through an online website make a conspicuous online option available for canceling a recurring purchase of a good or service. Under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, the bill establishes that failing to make available such option to cancel is prohibited. The bill is effective July 1.
On April 8, the Tennessee governor signed HB 1652, which also requires that suppliers of automatic renewals or continuous service offers through an online website make a conspicuous online option available for canceling a recurring purchase of a good or service. The bill is effective January 1, 2023.
Virginia allows banks to provide virtual currency custody services
On April 11, the Virginia governor signed HB 263, which permits banks in the Commonwealth to provide customers with virtual currency custody services “so long as the bank has adequate protocols in place to effectively manage risks and comply with applicable laws.” Before offering virtual currency custody services, banks must conduct a self-assessment process to carefully examine the risks involved in offering such services, which includes: (i) “implement[ing] effective risk management systems and controls to measure, monitor, and control relevant risks associated with custody of digital assets such as virtual currency”; (ii) confirming adequate insurance coverage for such services; and (iii) maintaining a service provider oversight program to address risks to service provider relationships as a result of engaging in virtual currency custody services. Banks may provide virtual currency custody services in either a fiduciary or non-fiduciary capacity. If a bank provides such services in a nonfiduciary capacity, the bank will “act as a bailee, taking possession of the customer’s asset for safekeeping while legal title remains with the customer” (i.e. “the customer retains direct control over the keys associated with their virtual currency”). Should a bank provide services in a fiduciary capacity, it must “require customers to transfer their virtual currencies to the control of the bank by creating new private keys to be held by the bank.” The bank will have “authority to manage virtual currency assets as it would any other type of asset held in such capacity.” HB 263 takes effect July 1.
Virginia creates provisions for sales-based financing providers
On April 11, the Virginia governor signed HB 1027, which requires sales-based financing providers to register with the State Corporation Commission and provide certain disclosures to a recipient at the time of extending a specific offer of sales-based financing. Exempt from the bill’s provisions are financial institutions and any “person, provider, or broker that enters into no more than five sales-based financing transactions with a recipient in a 12-month period” or enters a single sales-based financing transaction greater than $500,000. With respect to the bill’s disclosure requirements, sales-based financing providers must include details related to the total amount financed, finance charges, total repayment amount, and any other potential fees and charges not included in the finance charge. Additionally, an updated disclosure must be provided should the recipient choose to pay off or refinance the sales-based financing prior to full repayment. The bill also provides that any cause of action related to a contract or agreement for sales-based financing shall be brought in the Commonwealth, and that arbitration proceedings must be in the jurisdiction where the recipient’s principle place of business is located. Sales-based financing contracts are also prohibited from containing a confession by judgment or any similar provision. The bill provides the attorney general with enforcement authority, as well as the ability to seek damages and other relief, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, as allowed by law. The Commission will adopt regulations to implement the bill’s provisions. The bill’s provisions apply to sales-based financing contracts or agreements entered into on or after July 1.
Virginia enacts qualified education loan servicer legislation
On April 11, the Virginia governor signed SB 496, which amends provisions related to financial institutions and qualified education loan servicers. The bill, among other things provides that a “qualified education loan servicer” is an individual that meets all of the following criteria: (i) “receives any scheduled periodic payments from a qualified education loan borrower or notification of such payments or applies payments to the qualified education loan borrower's account pursuant to the terms of the qualified education loan or the contract governing the servicing”; (ii) “during a period when no payment is required on a qualified education loan, maintains account records for the qualified education loan and communicates with the qualified education loan borrower regarding the qualified education loan, on behalf of the qualified education loan's holder”; and (iii) “interacts with a qualified education loan borrower, which includes conducting activities to help prevent default on obligations arising from qualified education loans or to facilitate certain activities.” The bill is effective July 1.
HUD announces disaster relief for homeowners in several states
On March 16, HUD announced disaster assistance for certain areas in Virginia and Tennessee (see here and here) impacted by severe winter storms. The disaster assistance follows President Biden’s major disaster declarations on March 11. According to the announcements, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties and is making FHA insurance available to victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged, such that “reconstruction or replacement is necessary.” HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables individuals who have lost homes to finance a home purchase or to refinance a home to include repair costs through a single mortgage. The program also allows homeowners with damaged property to finance the repair of their existing single-family homes. Furthermore, HUD is allowing administrative flexibilities to community planning and development grantees, as well as to public housing agencies and Tribes.
On March 18, HUD announced disaster assistance for certain areas in Maine impacted by a severe storm and flooding. The disaster assistance follows President Biden’s major disaster declarations on March 15. According to the announcements, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties and is making FHA insurance available to victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged, such that “reconstruction or replacement is necessary.” HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables individuals who have lost homes to finance a home purchase or to refinance a home to include repair costs through a single mortgage. The program also allows homeowners with damaged property to finance the repair of their existing single-family homes. Furthermore, HUD is allowing administrative flexibilities to community planning and development grantees, as well as to public housing agencies and Tribes.
- Keisha Whitehall Wolfe to discuss “Tips for successfully engaging your state regulator” at the MBA's State and Local Workshop
- Max Bonici to discuss “Enforcement risk and trends for crypto and digital assets (Part 2)” at ABA’s 2023 Business Law Section Hybrid Spring Meeting
- Jedd R. Bellman to present “An insider’s look at handling regulatory investigations” at the Maryland State Bar Association Legal Summit