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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Title lender reaches settlement with Pennsylvania AG

    State Issues

    On January 10, Pennsylvania AG Michelle Henry announced a settlement with a national auto title lending company, resolving alleged violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and the Loan Interest and Protection Law (LIPL). According to the settlement, since 2016, the lender made thousands of vehicle title loans to Pennsylvania residents, with interest rates exceeding 100 percent without the necessary license required by the Consumer Discount Company Act.

    The AG also noted that some of the loans resulted from leads that they bought from third parties who purported to have physical offices in Pennsylvania, when in fact, neither the lender nor its lead generators were in Pennsylvania. The AG also said that most Pennsylvania-based borrowers drove to one of the lender’s Delaware locations. Nonetheless, the AG said, “Pennsylvania usury laws apply because [the lender] collected money from Pennsylvania consumers and repossessed vehicles in Pennsylvania.” In the settlement, the lender denies all allegations of unlawful conduct, including the assertion that it knowingly acquired leads from third parties leading to loans for Pennsylvania residents. The lender explained its position that until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rendered its opinion in another matter in January 2022, it held a “good faith and reasonable belief” based on then-existing law, particularly the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, that its operations were lawful.

    Among other things, the settlement (i) requires the lender to pay $2.2 million in consumer restitution; (ii) requires the lender to cancel approximately $3.7 million in existing loans; (iii) enjoins and prohibits the lender from violating the LIPL; and (iv) requires the lender to return any repossessed vehicles at no charge and refund consumers of all repossession fees previously charged.

    State Issues Settlement Enforcement Pennsylvania State Attorney General Lending Title Loans Interest

  • CFPB report looks at junk fees; official says they remain agency focus

    Federal Issues

    On March 8, the CFPB released a special edition of its Supervisory Highlights focusing on junk fees uncovered in deposit accounts and the auto, mortgage, student, and payday loan servicing markets. The findings in the report cover examinations completed between July 1, 2022 and February 1, 2023. Highlights of the supervisory findings include:

    • Deposit accounts. Examiners found occurrences where depository institutions charged unanticipated overdraft fees where, according to the Bureau, consumers could not reasonably avoid these fees, “irrespective of account-opening disclosures.” Examiners also found that while some institutions unfairly assessed multiple non-sufficient (NSF) fees for a single item, institutions have agreed to refund consumers appropriately, with many planning to stop charging NSF fees entirely.
    • Auto loan servicing. Recently examiners identified illegal servicing practices centered around the charging of unfair and abusive payment fees, including out-of-bounds and fake late fees, inflated estimated repossession fees, and pay-to-pay payment fees, and kickback payments. Among other things, examiners found that some auto loan servicers charged “payment processing fees that far exceeded the servicers’ costs for processing payments” after a borrower was locked into a relationship with a servicer selected by the dealer. Third-party payment processors collected the inflated fees, the Bureau said, and servicers then profited through kickbacks.
    • Mortgage loan servicing. Examiners identified occurrences where mortgage servicers overcharged late fees, as well as repeated fees for unnecessary property inspections. The Bureau claimed that some servicers also included monthly private mortgage insurance premiums in homeowners’ monthly statements, and failed to waive fees or other changes for homeowners entering into certain types of loss mitigation options.
    • Payday and title lending. Examiners found that lenders, in connection with payday, installment, title, and line-of-credit loans, would split and re-present missed payments without authorization, thus causing consumers to incur multiple overdraft fees and loss of funds. Some short-term, high-cost payday and title loan lenders also charged borrowers repossession-related fees and property retrieval fees that were not authorized in a borrower’s title loan contract. The Bureau noted that in some instances, lenders failed to timely stop repossessions and charged fees and forced consumers to refinance their debts despite prior payment arrangements.
    • Student loan servicing. Examiners found that servicers sometimes charged borrowers late fees and interest despite payments being made on time. According to the Bureau, if a servicer’s policy did not allow loan payments to be made by credit card and a customer representative accidentally accepted a credit card payment, the servicer, in certain instances, would manually reverse the payment, not provide the borrower another opportunity for paying, and charge late fees and additional interest.

    CFPB Deputy Director Zixta Martinez recently spoke at the Consumer Law Scholars Conference, where she focused on the Bureau’s goal of reigning in junk fees. She highlighted guidance issued by the Bureau last October concerning banks’ overdraft fee practices, (covered by InfoBytes here), and commented that, in addition to enforcement actions taken against two banks related to their overdraft practices, the Bureau intends to continue to monitor how overdrafts are used and enforce against certain practices. The Bureau noted that currently 20 of the largest banks in the country no longer charge surprise overdraft fees. Martinez also discussed a notice of proposed rulemaking issued last month related to credit card late fees (covered by InfoBytes here), in which the Bureau is proposing to adjust the safe harbor dollar amount for late fees to $8 for any missed payment—issuers are currently able to charge late fees of up to $41—and eliminate a higher safe harbor dollar amount for late fees for subsequent violations of the same type. Martinez further described supervision and enforcement efforts to identify junk fee practices and commented that the Bureau will continue to target egregious and unlawful activities or practices.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Finance Junk Fees Overdraft Supervision Examination Mortgages Student Lending Payday Lending Student Loan Servicer NSF Fees Title Loans UDAAP Auto Finance

  • CFPB orders nonbank title lender to pay $15 million for numerous violations

    Federal Issues

    On February 23, the CFPB entered a consent order against a Georgia-based nonbank auto title lender (respondent) for alleged violations of the Military Lending Act (MLA), the Truth in Lending Act, and the Consumer Financial Protection Act. According to the Bureau, the respondent allegedly charged nearly three times the MLA’s 36 percent annual interest rate cap on auto title loans made to military families. The respondent also allegedly changed military borrowers’ personal information in an attempt to hide their protected status, included mandatory arbitration clauses and unreasonable notice provisions in its loans, and charged fees for an insurance product that provided no benefit to the borrower. The Bureau noted that the respondent has been under a consent order since 2016 for allegedly engaging in unfair and abusive acts related to its lending and debt collection practices (covered by InfoBytes here). While neither admitting nor denying any of the allegations, the respondent has agreed to pay $5.05 million in consumer redress and a $10 million penalty. The respondent must also implement robust measures to prevent future violations.

    Federal Issues CFPB Enforcement Auto Finance Military Lending Act Consumer Finance Nonbank Repeat Offender Title Loans UDAAP CFPA Unfair Abusive

  • Idaho Department of Finance once again extends “work from home” guidance

    State Issues

    On March 31, the Idaho Department of Finance extended its temporary regulatory guidance (previously covered here, here, here) permitting mortgage brokers and lenders, mortgage loan originators, regulated lenders, title lenders, payday lenders, and collection agency licensees and registrants to work from home under certain circumstances. The original guidance (previously covered here) permits employees to work from home where the residence is not a licensed branch and certain data security requirements are met. The guidance is extended through December 31, 2021.

    State Issues Covid-19 Idaho Mortgage Broker Mortgage Origination Payday Lending Title Loans Licensing

  • Idaho Department of Finance extends work from home guidance for its licensees and registrants

    State Issues

    On May 22, the Idaho Department of Finance extended temporary work from home guidance previously issued to Idaho mortgage brokers and lenders, mortgage loan originators, regulated lenders, title lenders, payday lenders, and collection agency licensees and registrants. The original guidance, previously covered here, permits employees to work from home where the residence is not a licensed branch. The guidance is extended through September 1, 2020.

    State Issues Covid-19 Idaho Licensing Mortgage Broker Broker-Dealer Mortgage Lenders Loan Origination Mortgage Origination Title Loans Payday Lending Debt Collection

  • Waters urges exclusion of predatory lenders from PPP loans

    Federal Issues

    On May 1, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters (D-CA), sent a letter to the Department of Treasury (Treasury) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging them to prohibit payday and car-title lenders from receiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, citing harm these types of lenders have caused to consumers. The Congresswoman stressed that “there is no reason why Congress, SBA, or Treasury should bail out these predatory lenders” and encouraged them to instead focus on “providing PPP loans to the millions of responsible small businesses who are pillars in communities across the country and warrant immediate support.”

    Federal Issues Congress House Financial Services Committee Department of Treasury SBA Small Business Lending CARES Act Payday Lending Title Loans Covid-19

  • Idaho regulator issues “Work from Home” guidance

    State Issues

    On March 12, the Idaho Department of Finance issued guidance to its licensees and registrants—including mortgage brokers/lenders, mortgage loan originators, regulated lenders, title lenders, payday lenders and collection agencies—permitting employees to work from home even where the residence is not a licensed branch. The Department stated it will not take action against a licensee or registrant so long as the licensable activities meet specified data security and privacy requirements, and the licensee or registrant avoids advertising the unlicensed address or phone number, meeting consumers at the residence, or otherwise holding out or suggesting that the residence is a licensed location. The guidance is effective until June 30.

    State Issues Covid-19 Idaho Licensing Payday Lending MLO Debt Collection Mortgage Broker Mortgage Lenders Title Loans

  • CFPB Reaches Settlement with Arizona-Based Title Lender


    On February 2, the CFPB announced a consent order and stipulation in an enforcement action against one of five Arizona-based title lenders under investigation for violations of TILA (see September 23 InfoBytes post). The terms of the February consent order and stipulation include a $10,000 civil money penalty as well as a mandatory requirement that the lender refrain from further violations of TILA and create a comprehensive compliance plan to ensure that its advertising practices for its title lending business conform to all applicable federal consumer financial laws and the terms of the consent order. On November 1 and December 20, 2016, the CFPB posted consent orders and stipulations against three of the other five title lenders (2016-CFPB-0018, 2016-CFPB-0019, 2016-CFPB-0021). The Bureau is still negotiating an agreement with the fifth title lender.

    Courts Consumer Finance CFPB TILA Title Loans Regulator Enforcement

  • CFPB Monthly Complaint Snapshot Highlights Consumer Loan Complaints

    Consumer Finance

    On June 28, the CFPB released its monthly complaint report focusing on consumer loans, including vehicle loans and leases, installment loans, title loans, and pawn loans. According to the report, of the 906,400 consumer complaints across all products the CFPB has received as of June 1, 2016, approximately 38,500 were in the consumer loans category. Findings regarding consumer loan complaints highlighted in the report include: (i) just over half of consumer loan complaints pertain to vehicle loans, with installment loans following at 31 percent; (ii) consumers most often complain about issues related to servicing the loan, lease, or line of credit; and (iii) additional common consumer loan complaints include encountering problems when shopping for a loan, when taking out a loan, and when consumers are unable to repay a loan.

    This month’s report includes a “sub product spotlight” to highlight complaints specific to auto lending, which make up 60 percent of the 38,500 consumer loan complaints the CFPB has received since July 21, 2011. Consumer loan complaints specific to auto lending include, but are not limited to: (i) payment processing issues, such as consumers not having their accounts debited timely and correctly; (ii) confusion over fees and interest rates; (iii) repossession of vehicles without notification; (iv) misleading advertising at “Buy Here Pay Here” dealerships; and (v) insufficient warranty coverage, with consumers alleging that they believed they were required to purchase warranties that did not end up covering basic repairs as they expected.

    In addition to a focus on consumer loan complaints, the report identifies Arkansas as its geographical spotlight. As of June 1, Arkansas consumers have submitted 4,200 of the 906,400 total complaints across all products. According to the report, mortgage-related complaints make up 19 percent of complaints from Arkansas, lower than the national average of 26 percent, while debt collection complaints account for 29 percent of Arkansas complaints, higher than the national average of 27 percent.

    CFPB Auto Finance Debt Collection Consumer Lending Installment Loans Title Loans

  • Special Alert: CFPB Releases Outline of Proposed Rule for Payday, Vehicle Title, and Similar Loans

    Consumer Finance

    On March 26, the CFPB announced that it is considering proposing a rule to “end payday debt traps” and released several related documents, including a fact sheet and an outline of the proposal that will be presented to a panel of small businesses pursuant to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).  The proposal sets forth ability to repay requirements for “short-term” and “longer-term” loans, and then provides alternative options for lenders to provide both types of loans in lieu of complying with the general ability to repay requirements.

    Under the SBREFA process, the CFPB first seeks input from a panel of small businesses that likely will be subject to the forthcoming rule.  A report regarding the input of those reviewers is then created and considered by the CFPB before issuing its proposed rule.

    Click here to view the full Special Alert.



    Questions regarding the matters discussed in this Alert may be directed to the lawyers listed below, or to any other BuckleySandler attorney with whom you have consulted in the past.

    CFPB Payday Lending Title Loans Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act


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