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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • States reach $4.2 million settlement to resolve credit card interest overcharges

    State Issues

    On February 8, state attorneys general from Pennsylvania, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and North Carolina entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance with a national bank to resolve allegations that it overcharged credit card interest for certain consumers. According to the investigating states, between February 2011 and August 2017, the bank allegedly failed to properly reevaluate and reduce the annual percentage rate (APR) for certain consumer credit card account holders who were entitled to a reduction, as required by the CARD Act and state consumer protection laws. The announcement follows a 2018 CFPB settlement, in which the bank agreed to provide $335 million in restitution to affected consumers (covered by InfoBytes here). At the time, the Bureau noted that it did not assess civil monetary penalties due to efforts undertaken by the bank to self-identify and self-report violations to the Bureau. The states also acknowledged that the bank self-identified issues with its APR reevaluation process through an internal compliance program. The bank denied liability or that it violated the states’ consumer protection laws and has agreed to pay $4.2 million to approximately 25,000 current and former affected consumers, which will be limited to consumers who received a payment of $500 or more in restitution from the bank for the original violation.

    State Issues State Attorney General Enforcement Credit Cards Interest CARD Act

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  • CFPB issues CARD Act RFI

    Federal Issues

    On August 25, the CFPB announced a Request for Information (RFI) on the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), consistent with the requirements of Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which specifies that agencies should review certain rules within 10 years of their publication to consider the rules’ effect on small businesses. Specifically, the Bureau is seeking comments from stakeholders on the economic impact of the CARD Act on small entities and whether regulations should be adjusted to address those impacts. Additionally, the RFI seeks information, pursuant to section 502(a) of the CARD Act, related to the consumer credit card market. Among other things, the Bureau requests stakeholders comment on (i) the terms of credit card agreements; (ii) the effectiveness of credit card disclosures; (iii) the cost and availability of credit cards; and (iv) credit card product innovation.

    Comments on the RFI will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Federal Issues CFPB RFI CARD Act Small Business Lending

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  • CFPB adjusts annual dollar amount thresholds under TILA regulations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On July 17, the CFPB released the final rule revising the dollar amounts for provisions implementing the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and amendments to TILA, including the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994 (HOEPA), and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage (ATR/QM) provisions. The CFPB is required to make annual adjustments to dollar amounts in certain provisions in Regulation Z, and has based the adjustments on the annual percentage change reflected in the Consumer Price Index in effect on June 1, 2020. The following thresholds will be effective on January 1, 2021:

    • For open-end consumer credit plans under TILA, the threshold for disclosing an interest charge will remain unchanged at $1.00;
    • For open-end consumer credit plans under the CARD Act, the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a first violation penalty fee will remain unchanged at $29, and the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a subsequent violation penalty fee will also remain unchanged at $40;
    • For HOEPA loans, the adjusted total loan amount threshold for high-cost mortgages will be $22,052, and the adjusted points and fees dollar trigger for high-cost mortgages will be $1,103; and
    • The maximum thresholds for total points and fees for qualified mortgages under the ATR/QM rule will be: (i) three percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $110,260; (ii) $3,308 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $66,156 but less than $110,260; (iii) five percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $22,052 but less than $66,156; (iv) $1,103 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $13,783 but less than $22,052; and (v) eight percent of the total loan amount for loan amounts less than $13,783.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB TILA Regulation Z CARD Act Credit Cards HOEPA Qualified Mortgage Dodd-Frank

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  • National bank to challenge CFPB on cards suit

    Federal Issues

    On January 30, the CFPB announced that it filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island against a national bank (defendant) based upon alleged violations of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and its implementing Regulation Z, the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), and the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act). The CFPB claims that among other things, when servicing credit card accounts, the defendant did not properly manage consumer billing disputes for unauthorized card use and billing errors, and did not properly credit refunds to consumer accounts resulting from such disputes. Specifically, the complaint alleges that violations included the defendant’s (i) “practice of automatically denying billing error claims or claims of unauthorized use for failure of the consumers to provide Fraud Affidavits, including agreeing to testify as witnesses”; (ii) “failure to refund related finance charges and fees when it resolved billing error notices or claims of unauthorized use in consumers’ favor”; (iii) failure “to provide written notices of acknowledgement or denial in response to billing error notices”; and (iv) failure “to provide credit counseling referrals.” The CFPB is seeking injunctive relief, monetary relief, disgorgement of defendant’s ill-gotten gains, civil money penalties, and costs of the action.

    The defendant issued a response to the suit on January 31, stating that it self-identified the issues to the Bureau five years ago while simultaneously correcting any flawed processes. According to the defendant’s statement, “the CFPB’s action is misguided” and “well beyond the expiration of the statute of limitations. The defendant vows to “vigorously challenge” the suit.

    Federal Issues CFPB Courts Enforcement CARD Act TILA Regulation Z Fair Credit Billing Act Disgorgement Credit Cards Finance Charge Notice

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  • CFPB releases TILA, EFTA, and CARD Act annual report

    Federal Issues

    On December 18, the CFPB issued its mandated annual report to Congress covering activity in 2016 and 2017 pertaining to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), and the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act). The report describes enforcement actions brought by the Bureau and federal agencies related to TILA, EFTA, the CARD Act (and respective implementing Regulations Z and E), as well as data on required reimbursements to consumers. The report also includes a compliance assessment of TILA and EFTA violations. Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) member agencies report that more institutions were cited for violations of Regulation Z than Regulation E during the 2016 and 2017 reporting periods, and that the most frequently reported Regulation Z violations include (i) failing to disclose, or to accurately disclose, the finance charge on closed-end credit; (ii) failing to disclose good faith estimates on disclosures for closed-end credit; and (iii) failing to provide consumers with specific loan cost information on closing disclosures. The most commonly cited Regulation E violations include (i) failing to comply with investigation and timeframe requirements when resolving errors in electronic fund transfers; and (ii) failing to provide applicable disclosures. In addition, the report recaps FFIEC outreach activities related to TILA and EFTA, such as workshops, blogs, and other outreach events.

    Federal Issues CFPB TILA EFTA CARD Act FFIEC Regulation Z Regulation E Disclosures

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  • CFPB releases 2019 Card Report

    Federal Issues

    On August 27, the CFPB released its fourth biennial report on the state of the credit card market as required by Section 502 of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act). The 2019 report covers the credit card market for the 2017-2018 period. In opening remarks, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger notes that with the passage of time, it has become “increasingly difficult to correlate the CARD Act with specific effects in the marketplace that have occurred since the issuance of the Bureau’s last biennial report, and, even more so, to demonstrate a causal relationship between the CARD Act and those effects,” and therefore, future reports will focus more on overall market conditions. Key findings of the report include, (i) total outstanding credit card balances continue to grow; (ii) total cost of credit stood at 18.7 percent at the end of 2018, which is the highest overall level observed by the Bureau in its biennial reports; (iii) total credit line across all consumer credit cards reached $4.3 trillion in 2018, which is largely due to the increase in unused credit lines held by superprime score consumers; and (iv) consumers are increasingly using their cards through digital portals, including those accessed via mobile devices.

    Regarding current trends, the report notes that over the last few years, the total amount of credit card spending has grown “much faster” than the total volume of balances carried on the cards. In addition, while cardholders with prime or superprime credit scores still account for most debt and spending, lower credit score consumers have been increasing their debt at a faster rate than cardholders with higher credit scores. Notably, delinquency and charge-off rates still remain lower than they were prior to the recession, even though they have slightly increased in recent years. Additionally, since the last report, issuers have lowered their daily limits on debt collection phone calls for delinquent accounts and average daily attempts remain “well below” stated limits. Issuers are also beginning to supplement communications for account servicing with email and text messages.

    Federal Issues CFPB Credit Cards CARD Act

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  • CFPB adjusts annual dollar amount thresholds under TILA regulations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 1, the CFPB published in the Federal Register the final rule amending Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), including as amended by the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994 (HOEPA), and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage (ATR/QM) provisions. The CFPB is required to make annual adjustments to dollar amounts in certain provisions in Regulation Z, and has based the adjustments on the annual percentage change reflected in the Consumer Price Index in effect on June 1, 2019. The following thresholds will be effective on January 1, 2020:

    • For open-end consumer credit plans under TILA, the threshold for disclosing an interest charge will remain unchanged at $1.00;
    • For open-end consumer credit plans under the CARD Act amendments, the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a first violation penalty fee will increase from $28 to $29, and the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a subsequent violation penalty fee will increase from $39 to $40;
    • For HOEPA loans, the adjusted total loan amount threshold for high-cost mortgages will be $21,980, and the adjusted points and fees dollar trigger for high-cost mortgages will be $1,099; and
    • The maximum thresholds for total points and fees for qualified mortgages under the ATR/QM rule will be: (i) 3 percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $109,898; (ii) $3,297 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $65,939 but less than $109,898; (iii) 5 percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $21,980 but less than $65,939; (iv) $1,099 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $13,737 but less than $21,980; and (v) 8 percent of the total loan amount for loan amounts less than $13,737.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB TILA CARD Act Credit Cards HOEPA Qualified Mortgage Dodd-Frank

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  • CFPB releases RFI on consumer credit card market

    Federal Issues

    On January 31, the CFPB published a request for information (RFI) on the consumer credit card market. Section 502 of the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility Disclosure Act (CARD Act) of 2009 requires the Bureau to conduct a review of the consumer credit card market every two years and to seek public comment to assist in that review. While the Bureau seeks feedback on all aspects of the consumer credit card market, the RFI specifically seeks comments related to, among other things, (i) the terms of credit card agreements and the practices, such as collection efforts, of credit card issuers; (ii) the effectiveness of disclosures related to rates, fees, and other cost terms; (iii) prevalence of unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices in the market; and (iv) credit card product innovation. Comments must be received by May 1, 2019.

    Federal Issues CFPB RFI Credit Cards CARD Act

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  • CFPB publishes final rule adjusting annual dollar amount thresholds under TILA regulations

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 27, the CFPB issued a final rule amending Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), including as amended by the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994 (HOEPA), and the Dodd-Frank ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage provisions (ATR/QM). The CFPB is required to make annual adjustments to dollar amounts in certain provisions in Regulation Z, and has based the adjustments on the annual percentage change reflected in the Consumer Price Index in effect on June 1, 2018. The following thresholds will be effective on January 1, 2019:

    • For open-end consumer credit plans under TILA, the threshold for disclosing an interest charge will remain unchanged at $1.00;
    • For open-end consumer credit plans under the CARD Act amendments, the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a first violation penalty fee will increase from $27 to $28, and the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a subsequent violation penalty fee will increase from $38 to $39;
    • For HOEPA loans, the adjusted total loan amount threshold for high-cost mortgages will be $21,549, and the adjusted points and fees dollar trigger for high-cost mortgages will be $1,077; and
    • The maximum thresholds for total points and fees for qualified mortgages under the ATR/QM rule will be: (i) 3 percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $107,747; (ii) $3,232 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $64,648 but less than $107,747; (iii) 5 percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $21,549 but less than $64,648; (iv) $1,077 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $13,468 but less than $21,549; and (v) 8 percent of the total loan amount for loan amounts less than $13,468.

     

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Lending CFPB TILA CARD Act Credit Cards HOEPA Qualified Mortgage Dodd-Frank

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  • CFPB Submits Request for Information on Consumer Credit Card Market

    Consumer Finance

    On March 10, in accordance with the rules of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), that mandates the CFPB prepare a report every two years examining developments in the consumer credit card marketplace, the Bureau submitted a Request for Information to solicit feedback from the public. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the first review occurred in October 2013 and the second review in December 2015. In preparation for the next report, the Bureau is focusing on several aspects of the consumer credit card market, as follows:

    • The terms of credit card agreements and the practices of credit card issuers
    • The effectiveness of disclosure of terms, fees, and other expenses of credit card plans
    • The adequacy of protections against unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unlawful discrimination relating to credit card plans
    • The cost and availability of consumer credit cards, the use of risk-based pricing for consumer credit cards, and consumer credit card product innovation
    • Deferred interest products
    • Subprime specialist products
    • Third-party comparison sites
    • Innovation
    • Secured credit cards
    • Online and mobile account servicing
    • Rewards products
    • Variable interest rates
    • Debt collection.

    Comments are due by June 8, 2017.

    Consumer Finance Credit Cards CARD Act

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