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On April 27, the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner issued an advisory bulletin encouraging credit access businesses to consider certain emergency measures in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bulletin encouraged credit access businesses to work with consumers by increasing communications, working out loan modifications that avoid delinquencies and negative credit reporting, waiving certain charges and fees, and suspending vehicle repossession and charge offs. The office also extended the deadline for required first quarter reporting from April 30 until May 31, 2020, and permitted credit access business activity to occur from otherwise unlicensed locations, so long as certain requirements are met.
Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit issues amended interim guidance regarding remote work for employees of licensees
On April 23, the Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit issued amended interim guidance to licensees regarding temporary operations from home and alternate locations. Mortgage loan originators and employees of other regulated entities who are typically required to work only from licensed locations may work from home, and sets forth data security requirements that must be met to conduct activities from home. Companies may also use an alternate site for conducting business if a licensed location is compromised or undergoing decontamination procedures. In such an event, the department is prepared to expedite address changes and waive associated fees. The department also states that it will work with affected licensees to schedule examinations or inspections to minimize disruption. The interim guidance is effective through May 31, 2020, unless otherwise changed, extended, or withdrawn.
On April 22, the Texas Department of Banking, Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending, Office of Consumer Credit and Credit Union Department issued revised home equity lending guidance related to making new loans or adjusting existing loans to facilitate recovery efforts. The agencies encouraged lenders to work with borrowers to assist recovery while providing guidance on how lenders can ensure they maintain a valid home equity lien.
On April 21, Maine’s governor issued an executive order concerning the Covid-19 Loan Guarantee Program recently established by Maine’s legislature. The order suspends the enforcement of certain statutory lending requirements law to allow financial institutions to consider a consumer’s creditworthiness and extent the amortization period of loans issued pursuant to the program. The order also extends certain grace periods, repayment periods, and claims provisions.
On April 16, the Texas Office of Consumer Credit issued a revised bulletin outlining emergency guidance for regulated lenders navigating the Covid-19 crisis. The guidelines: 1) extended due date for filing annual reports from May 1 to June 1; 2) encouraged lenders to work with consumers, including by working out modifications to assist with payments, waiving fees and charges, suspending charged-off accounts, and suspending repossessions of collateral or foreclosure of real property, among other things; 3) reminded lenders of legal requirements for using electronic signatures; and 4) permitted lenders to conduct regulated lending activity from unlicensed locations, subject to certain conditions.
On April 14, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued guidance for consumer credit licensees, noting that it expects them to work with consumers during the crisis and be flexible with repayment of debt. The department recommended following a number of best practices, including increasing communication with consumers, waiving late charges and insufficient fund fees, suspending debt collection efforts, recommending that the creditor utilize the natural disaster code when reporting a consumer’s credit wherever permissible, and ensuring sufficient staffing of customer service phone lines, among other things.
The State of Texas Joint Financial Regulatory Agencies issued guidance pertaining to HELOCs as part of the state’s broader Covid-19 emergency measures pursuant to the governor’s declaration of a state of disaster for Texas on March 13. The agencies’ statement anticipates that lenders may adjust or extend terms on HELOCs and offer new loans during the crisis period, but also clarified that all such modifications and newly-issued loans must comply with Article XVI, Section 50 of the Texas Constitution. The guidance confirmed that modifications that lower the interest rate or amount of installment payments, but that do not satisfy or replace the original note, advance new funds, or increase obligations created by the original note, would not be a new extension of credit under Section 50(a)(6) of the constitution. The State of Texas Joint Financial Regulatory Agencies is comprised of the Texas Department of Banking, Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending, Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, and Texas Credit Union Department.
On March 30, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued Regulatory Guidance 20-09 to consumer credit licensees. The guidance extends the deadlines to file annual reports originally due March 1 or March 15, 2020 to April 30, 2020, for the following consumer credit-related licensees: regulated lenders, motor vehicle sales finance companies, industrial loan and thrift companies, consumer small lenders, insurance premium finance companies, debt settlement services providers, and debt management services providers.
On March 27, Maryland’s Commissioner of Financial Regulation issued guidance on consumer credit. The guidance urges businesses to: waive late fees as well as online and telephone payment fees; forego negative credit reporting during the health emergency; offer modification, forbearance, and other loss mitigation options; reach out to borrowers proactively to provide information on available assistance; and ensure that all borrower-facing staff are fully informed regarding any assistance available, and are proactive in informing borrowers of such.
Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner issues bulletins regarding Covid-19 to regulated lenders, credit access businesses, tax lenders, and motor vehicle sales finance licensees
On March 26, the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC) issued four bulletins directed at regulated lenders, credit access businesses, property tax lenders, and motor vehicle sales finance licensees in light of Covid-19. The bulletins urge these entities to work with borrowers during the crisis, including through taking the following measures:
- Increasing communication with borrowers regarding Covid-19.
- Working out modifications with borrowers to help ensure successful repayment, including deferred or partial payments, which would avoid delinquencies and negative credit reporting.
- Waiving certain fees or charges (e.g., late charges, additional finance charges, deferment charges, nonsufficient fund fees) during the disaster declaration.
- Suspending charging off accounts.
- Suspending repossession of vehicles, repossessions of collateral, foreclosure of real property, as applicable
The bulletins also provide guidance on the use of electronic signatures, which the bulletins note are generally allowed under Texas and federal law. The bulletins also provide that the OCCC will not take enforcement actions against regulated lenders, credit access businesses, property tax lenders, or motor vehicle sales finance licensees that conduct business activities from unlicensed locations, if conducted in accordance with certain data security, safe record keeping, and protection of personal information requirements set forth in the bulletins.
- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "Ongoing challenges of TRID compliance" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Live: Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "Resisting temptation in a crisis: How to make sure ethics and compliance don't get diluted under financial strain" at a New York City Bar Association webcast
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "BSA for BSA seasoned officers" at an NAFCU webinar
- Jon David D. Langlois to discuss "LIBOR transition: Preparations for legal professionals" at a Mortgage Bankers Association webinar
- Garylene D. Javier to discuss "Navigating workplace culture in 2020" at the DC Bar Conference