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On November 25, the Governor of New York signed S2302, a measure which prohibits entities that are “licensed lenders” in New York, as well as consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), from including a consumer’s social network information in credit decisions. S2302 amends New York’s general business law and the banking law to prohibit licensed lenders and CRAs from considering “the credit worthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity of members of the consumer’s social network” or “the average credit worthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity of members of the consumer’s social network or any group score that is not the [consumer’s] own credit” information. Specifically, the amendment prohibits licensed lenders and CRAs from collecting, evaluating, reporting, or maintaining the information in a file. Additionally, the consumer’s internet viewing history also may not be factored into the licensed lender’s or agency’s “credit scoring formulas.”
On September 25, the CFPB released the latest quarterly consumer credit trends report, which examines how the volume and types of bankruptcy filings have changed from 2001 to 2018. The report focuses on consumers who filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy during the reported timeframe. Key findings of the report include: (i) in 2005, there was a rush to file for bankruptcy before the income limits of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) went into effect, increasing the share of Chapter 7 filings to 80 percent of all personal bankruptcy filings that year; (ii) from 2015 to 2018, with the effects of the recession fading, Chapter 7 filings appear to have stabilized at about 63 percent; (iii) Chapter 7 and 13 filers, on average, had more than twice the mortgage debt during the recession than in the periods before and after; and (iv) median credit scores increase steadily from year-to-year after consumers file a bankruptcy petition, with Chapter 7 filers’ scores increasing more quickly than Chapter 13, on average.
On August 13, the FHFA announced its final rule on the validation and approval of third-party credit score model(s) that can be used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs), implementing Section 310 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The final rule defines a four-phase process for a GSE to validate and approve credit score models: (i) solicitation of applications from credit score model developers; (ii) submission and review of applications; (iii) credit score assessment; and (iv) business assessment, which, among other things, evaluates the impact of using the credit score model on industry operations and mortgage market liquidity. Additionally, the final rule lays out timing and notices for GSE decisions under the process. After a GSE approves or disapproves of an application, within 45 days the FHFA must approve or disapprove of the GSE’s proposed determination. If any applications are approved, the credit score solicitation will be made publicly available. The rule will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
On June 21, the FTC announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut temporarily halted the operation of an alleged credit repair scheme based on allegations the company charged illegal upfront fees and falsely claimed to substantially improve consumers’ credit scores in violation of the FTC Act, the Credit Repair Organizations Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), the Consumer Review Fairness Act, TILA, and the EFTA. According to the complaint, since 2014, the company, among other things, (i) claims they can improve consumers’ credit scores by removing negative items and hard inquiries from credit reports; (ii) charges advance fees for their services; (iii) does not provide the required disclosures for its services, including credit transaction disclosures related to the financing of the service fees; (iv) engages in electronic funds transfers from consumers’ bank accounts without proper authorization; and (v) threatens consumers with legal action after consumers complain about the lack of results. The court order requires the company to temporarily cease its operations and ensures the company’s assets are frozen.
On May 30, the CFPB released the latest quarterly consumer credit trends report, which examines the fluctuations in consumers’ credit scores and the timing of consumers’ applications for credit. The report analyzes consumers whose credit scores showed large increases or decreases between 2009 and 2017. Key findings of the report include, (i) consumers with large credit score changes, in either direction, tend to be younger and have considerably lower credit scores on average; (ii) application rates drop sharply as credit scores reach their minimums, and then, after hitting bottom application rates trend steadily upward; and (iii) patterns in application rates generally hold regardless of the levels of minimum and maximum credit scores.
The report notes that while the Bureau did not perform “a full accounting of the underlying mechanism” that leads to the observed patterns, there are a few possible explanations, including (i) consumers are more aware of their credit scores due to the wider availability of them, which would influence timing of applications; (ii) hard inquiries and results from hard inquiries may contribute to the observed peaks and troughs in the scores; (iii) marketing practices by card issuers may contribute to increased applications after a consumer’s credit score qualifies the consumer for a prescreened offer.
On July 23, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it will not decide this year whether to update the credit score model used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), as previously announced. Instead, FHFA will focus on implementing Section 310: Credit Score Competition, of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (Public Law 115-174) (the Act). Section 310 requires FHFA to establish, through the rulemaking process, standards and criteria to govern the verification and validation of credit score models used by the Enterprises. According to the press release, prior to Section 310 becoming law, FHFA and the Enterprises had been engaged in an ongoing initiative to evaluate a new credit score model’s potential impact on “access to credit, safety and soundness, operations in the mortgage finance industry, and competition in the credit score market.” However, after Section 310 was enacted in May, FHFA “determined that proceeding with efforts to reach a decision based on our [initiative] and timetable would be duplicative of, and in some respects inconsistent with, the work we are mandated to do under Section 310 of the Act. In light of that, we are communicating to Congress that we are transferring our full efforts to working with the Enterprises to implement the steps required under Section 310.” FHFA will release a proposed rule open for public comment in the future to govern the verification of credit score models.
On February 2, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it is extending the deadline for input on how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) should update their current credit score requirements. Interested parties now have until March 30 to respond to the 22 questions outlined in the Request for Input (RFI) issued by FHFA on December 20, 2017. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the RFI sought input on four options for replacement of the Classic FICO credit score model currently used by the GSEs. The four options include (i) requiring the use of either the FICO 9 credit score model or the VantageScore 3.0 credit score model; (ii) requiring the use of both the FICO 9 and the VantageScore 3.0 credit score models; (iii) allowing lenders to choose between either the FICO 9 or the VantageScore 3.0 credit score models; or (iv) allowing lenders to deliver multiple scores through a waterfall approach that would establish a primary and a secondary score.
On December 20, the Federal Housing Financial Agency (FHFA) announced a Request for Input (RFI) seeking feedback from interested parties regarding how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) should update their current credit score requirements. Specifically, the GSEs plan to stop using the Classic FICO credit score model and to replace it with one of four options. These options include (i) requiring the use of either the FICO 9 credit score model or the VantageScore 3.0 credit score model; (ii) requiring the use of both the FICO 9 and the VantageScore 3.0 credit score models; (iii) allowing lenders to choose between either the FICO 9 or the VantageScore 3.0 credit score models; or (iv) allowing lenders to deliver multiple scores through a waterfall approach that would establish a primary and a secondary score. The FHFA’s RFI asks interested parties to provide feedback on these options by responding to 22 questions outlined in the RFI by February 20.
On December 21, FHFA released the 2018 Scorecard outlining specific conservatorship priorities for the GSEs and their joint venture, Common Securitization Solutions, LLC (CSS). The 2018 Scorecard continues to identify many of the priorities outlined in the 2017 Scorecard. In addition, the 2018 Scorecard highlights the FHFA’s focus on gathering information to support its assessment of single-family rental strategies and extends the timeline for implementation of the Single Security Initiative on the Common Securitization Platform to the second quarter of 2019.
CFPB Fines Loan-Servicing Software Company $1.1 Million for Flaws Leading to the Reporting of Inaccurate Consumer Information
On November 17, the CFPB ordered a loan-servicing software company to pay a $1.1 million penalty for errors that resulted in the company furnishing incorrect consumer information related to over one million borrowers to the credit reporting agencies. The consent order alleges that the company violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act when its third-party software application generated and furnished inaccurate and incomplete information to consumer reporting agencies because of known software defects. The company allegedly did not share the existence of the defects with its auto-lender clients. In addition to the civil money penalty, the company was ordered to: (i) explain its errors to its clients; (ii) fix the faulty software; and (iii) provide the Bureau with a compliance plan outlining how it plans to identify and fix the defects, as well as ensure that the software is capable of reporting accurate information.
On November 13, the CFPB’s Office of Financial Education (OFE) published two requests for information (RFI) in the Federal Register concerning free access to credit scores. The first RFI requests information related to (i) consumers’ experience when accessing free credit scores, and (ii) the experience of companies and nonprofits when offering free access to credit scores to their customers and the general public. The Bureau plans to use the information gathered through the RFI to, among other things, “identify educational content that is providing the most value to consumers, and additional educational content that the Bureau or others could develop to increase consumers’ understanding of credit scores and credit reports.” Comments must be received by February 12, 2018.
The second RFI requests information on companies that provide existing customers free access to a credit score. This information will be used to update OFE’s March 2017 list of companies that offer this service. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Following its update to the list, the CFPB intends to publish information “to educate consumers about the availability of credit scores and credit reports and how this information can be used effectively.” Comments must be received by January 12, 2018.
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