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On May 15, the New Hampshire governor signed HB 649 to, among other things, amend the state licensing requirements for nondepository mortgage bankers, brokers, and servicers, as well as pawnbrokers and moneylenders. Specifically, licensing applicants must file with the banking commissioner a written verified application through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) using the NMLS form, or by providing all the same information required on the application using the NMLS. Applicants must also file a statement of net worth. Finally, HB 649 defines what constitutes a “significant event” pertaining to a licensee’s practices with respect to consumer credit, small loans, debt adjustments, and money lending. The act became effective immediately.
On May 7, the Georgia governor signed HB 185, which amends various state laws related to financial institutions, including the licensing requirements for mortgage lenders and mortgage loan originators. The bill specifies that any licensed mortgage lender is authorized to engage in all activities that are authorized for a mortgage broker and therefore, is not required to obtain a mortgage broker license. Additionally, the bill specifies that a mortgage loan originator license shall become inactive in the event that a mortgage loan originator is no longer sponsored by a mortgage lender or mortgage broker that is licensed. The bill becomes effective July 1.
On May 13, the Colorado governor signed SB19-002, the “Colorado Student Loan Servicers Act,” which requires an entity that services a student education loan owned by a Colorado resident to be licensed by the state. Under the bill, “student loan servicer” is generally defined as a person that receives a scheduled periodic payment from a student loan borrower and applies the payments of principal and interest with respect to the amounts received from such a borrower, and provides other similar administrative services. The bill requires any person seeking to act as a student loan servicer to be licensed through the state on or after January 31, 2020, and specifies the procedures for obtaining and renewing the license. Federal student loan servicers are automatically issued the license under the bill.
Among other things, the bill also specifies particular acts that are required of the student loan servicer, including (i) providing substantive responses within 30 days of receiving a written inquiry from a borrower; (ii) inquiring of borrowers as to how to apply overpayments; and (iii) applying partial payments in a manner that minimizes late fees and negative credit reporting. Additionally, the bill specifies prohibited acts, including (i) engaging in an unfair or deceptive practice toward any person or misrepresenting or omitting any material information in connection with servicing student loans; (ii) misapplying payments to the loan balance; and (iii) failing to report both favorable and unfavorable payment history to a consumer reporting agency. A violation of the bill is considered a deceptive trade practice, and the bill provides a private right of action for borrowers to seek punitive damages for violations. The bill is expected to take effect on August 2.
On May 15, a group of 25 Democratic Attorneys General submitted a comment letter in response to the CFPB’s February proposal to rescind certain provisions related to the underwriting standards of the “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (the Rule) (covered by InfoBytes here). In the comment letter, the Attorneys General argue, among other things, that the elimination of the underwriting provisions of the Rule: (i) is inconsistent with the Bureau’s obligations to protect consumers under the Dodd-Frank Act; (ii) ignores state experiences with payday and vehicle title lending; and (iii) would reduce states’ ability to protect their residents from predatory lending.
Specifically, the letter argues that the Bureau’s reasoning for repealing the underwriting requirements—that the findings of the Rule “were not supported by sufficiently ‘robust and reliable’ evidence”—would saddle the Bureau with an unreasonably high evidentiary standard that would prevent the Bureau from regulating unfair and abusive practices. Additionally, the letter states that the Bureau’s conclusion that the underwriting requirements would harm consumers by reducing consumer’s access to credit and ability to choose lenders offering credit ignores “the experiences of numerous states that have implemented restrictions on payday and vehicle title lending—restrictions that have protected consumers without unreasonably limiting consumers’ access to credit.” States’ restrictions on payday and vehicle title lending, according to the letter, have “benefited consumers and expanded access to manageable credit.” Lastly, the letter asserts that maintaining a federal regulatory floor on lending activities is “crucial to supporting and complementing state oversight,” and removal of the floor will “enable lenders to continue trying to avoid state regulation and continue marketing expensive and often unlawful products to consumers without providing borrowers an opportunity for negotiation or comparison.”
The comment letter was written by the Attorneys General of the District of Columbia, New Jersey, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
As previously covered by InfoBytes, the same group of Attorneys General had urged the CFPB via a previous comment letter not to delay the August 19, 2019 compliance date for any aspect of the Rule, and had warned that they would consider taking legal action if the Bureau did so.
On May 19, the Office of the State Bank Commissioner of Kansas published in the Kansas Register an amended Administrative Interpretation No. 1004 covering Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP). In general, the interpretation provides guidance for creditors to follow to exclude the cost of GAP waiver agreements from the calculation of the finance charge with consumer credit sales and closed-end consumer loans pursuant to the Uniform Consumer Credit Code. The revision amends paragraph 3(g) of the interpretation, which requires clear disclosure on how to contact the GAP provider in connection with claims for GAP coverage. Paragraph 3(g) states that the information must be written in bold font and the word “claims” must be bolded and underlined. Additionally, the form must also advise Kansas consumers that they can contact the Kansas Office of State Bank Commissioner with complaints about their GAP waiver agreement. The revised interpretation was effective on May 15.
On May 16, the Iowa governor signed SF 619, which, among other things, amends the state’s service contract provider provisions to require any provider that issues, offers for sale, or sells motor vehicle service contracts in the state to be licensed as a service company. Persons who provide support services or work under the direction of a licensed service company, including those who provide marketing, administrative, or technical support, are not subject to the licensure requirements. In addition, SF 619 also prohibits a licensed service company that offers motor vehicle service contracts from making certain false, deceptive, or misleading statements regarding (i) the service company’s affiliations with a manufacturer or importer; (ii) a warranty’s validity or expiration date; or (iii) whether a contract holder must obtain a new service contract in order to maintain coverage under an existing contract or warranty. Furthermore, SF 619 prohibits a lending institution from requiring “the purchase of a motor vehicle service contract or residential service contract as a condition of a loan or the sale of any property or motor vehicle.” The amendments are effective immediately.
On May 14, the Vermont governor signed S.154, which, among other things, amends the state’s mortgage licensing statute. Specifically, the legislation repeals various provisions of the state’s licensing process for mortgage lenders and servicers and replaces the provisions with a new chapter (8 V.S.A. Chapter 72) intended to streamline the law and bring more clarity and cohesion to the licensing process. The bill is effective July 1.
Maryland establishes student loan servicer provisions, prohibits unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices
On March 13, the Maryland governor signed HB 594, which establishes various provisions with respect to student loan servicing in the state. Among other things, student loan servicers are prohibited from (i) employing—either directly or indirectly—“any scheme, device, or artifice to mislead a student loan borrower”; (ii) engaging in any unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practice with regard to the servicing of student loans; (iii) misrepresenting or omitting material information, including fees, payment amounts, repayment options, terms and conditions, or student borrower obligations; (iv) obtaining property through the misrepresentation or omission of material fact; (v) knowingly or recklessly misapplying or refusing to correct a misapplication of payments to the balance of any student loan; (vi) providing inaccurate information to a consumer credit reporting agency; (vii) refusing to communicate with a student loan borrower’s authorized representative; (viii) making false statements or omitting material facts in connection with an investigation; and (ix) violating federal laws concerning student loan servicing. In addition, on or after February 1, 2020, student loan servicers are also prohibited from “allocat[ing] a nonconforming payment in a manner other than as directed by the student loan borrower” provided the borrower meets certain criteria. The Act also requires student loan servicers to respond to a borrower’s inquiry or complaint within 30 days of receipt, authorizes the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (Commissioner) to enforce the Act’s provisions, and provides that the Student Loan Ombudsman many refer borrower complaints to the Commissioner for investigation. The Act is effective October 1.
On May 6, the Indiana governor signed HB 1136, which amends the state’s Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC) to, among other things, revise provisions related to authorized delinquency charges on consumer credit sales and consumer loans. Specifically, the amendments authorize a creditor to collect a delinquency charge of not more than (i) $5 for installments not paid in full within 10 days after the scheduled due date if installments are due every 14 days or less; (ii) $25 for installments not paid in full within 10 days after the scheduled due date if installments are due every 15 days or more; or (iii) $25 on single installments due at least 30 days after the consumer loan is made if the installment is not paid within 10 days after its scheduled due date. Furthermore, creditors are prohibited from collecting—whether directly or indirectly—a delinquency charge on any payment that (i) is paid within 10 days following its scheduled due date; and (ii) “is otherwise a full payment of the payment due for the applicable installment period. . .if the only delinquency with respect to a consumer credit sale, refinancing, or consolidation is attributable to a delinquency charge assessed on an earlier installment.” In addition, HB 1136 amends the maximum transaction fee for revolving loan accounts to the greater of 2 percent of the transaction amount or $10. The amendments take effect July 1.
On May 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the dismissal of a consumer’s putative class action against her reverse mortgage servicer for the alleged improper placement of flood insurance on her home. The consumer claimed violations of the FDCPA and multiple Florida laws, including the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), based on allegations that the mortgage servicer improperly executed lender-placed flood insurance on her property, even though the condo association had flood insurance covering the property. The lender-placed flood insurance resulted in $5,200 in premiums added to the balance of the loan, and an increase in financing costs on the mortgage. The district court dismissed the action, concluding the mortgage servicer was required by federal law to purchase the flood insurance and the monthly account statements were not collection letters under the FDCPA or state law.
On appeal, the 11th Circuit agreed with the district court that the monthly account statements of the reverse mortgage, which prominently stated “this is not a bill” in bold, uppercase letters, and did not request or demand payment, were not an attempt to collect a debt under the FDCPA. Additionally, the appellate court concluded that the consumer failed to allege the mortgage servicer was a debt collector within the meaning of the FDCPA because the complaint does not allege that the debt was in default. The appellate court also affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the state debt collection claims for similar reasons. However, the appellate court reversed the district court’s dismissal of the consumer’s FDUTPA claims, noting that the mortgage servicer failed to cite to a state or federal law requiring it to purchase flood insurance “when it has reason to know that the borrower is maintaining adequate coverage” in the form a condo association insurance.
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to provide “Fair lending update” at the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association Operational and Compliance Forum
- Kari K. Hall to discuss “Justice for all: Achieving racial equity through fair lending” at CBA Live
- Warren W. Traiger to discuss “On the horizon for CRA modernization” at CBA Live
- APPROVED Webcast: Strategy & Technology: A dynamic duo for successful regulatory exams
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to participate in Q&A on flood insurance at the NAFCU Virtual Regulatory Compliance School
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss “Primer on cross-border prosecutions in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico for U.S. criminal lawyers” at a New York City Bar Association webinar
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Fair lending" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “State law regulatory and enforcement trends” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Government investigations, and compliance 2021 trends” at the Corporate Counsel Women of Color Career Strategies Conference
- Max Bonici to discuss “BSA/AML trends: What to expect with the implementation of the AML Act of 2020” at the American Bar Association Banking Law Fall Meeting
- H Joshua Kotin to discuss “Modifications and exiting forbearance” at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions Regulatory Compliance Seminar
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Fintech trends” at the BIHC Network Elevating Black Excellence Regional Summit
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss “Consumer financial services government enforcement actions – The CFPB and beyond,” at the Government Investigations & Civil Litigation Institute Annual Meeting
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute