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  • 10th Circuit affirms TCPA statutory damages as uninsurable

    Courts

    On November 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision that under Colorado law, an insurance company (plaintiff) had no duty to indemnify and defend its insured against TCPA claims seeking statutory damages and injunctive relief. According to the appellate opinion, the states of California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio sued a satellite television company for telemarketing violations of the TCPA (TCPA lawsuit). The TCPA lawsuit sought statutory damages of up to $1,500 per alleged violation and injunctive relief. The satellite company submitted a claim to its insurer for defense and indemnity of the TCPA claims pursuant to existing policies. The plaintiff filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that it need not defend or indemnify the satellite company in the TCPA lawsuit. The district court, relying on ACE American Insurance Co. v. DISH Network (covered by InfoBytes here), determined that, under ACE, the claim for statutory damages in the telemarketing complaint sought a penalty and therefore was “uninsurable as a matter of Colorado public policy,” and that the policies did not cover the complaint’s claim for injunctive relief because, as in ACE, they did not cover the costs of preventing future violations. Additionally, the district court determined that “the allegations did not potentially fall within the Policies’ definitions of ‘Bodily Injury’ or ‘Property Damage.’” The 10th Circuit affirmed the district court’s rulings, concluding that no coverage existed.

    Courts Appellate TCPA TSR Insurance FTC State Issues

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  • Texas adopts numerous mortgage-related provisions

    Recently, the Texas Finance Commission promulgated amendments to regulations governing residential mortgage licensees. Specifically, rules applicable to (i) licensed Mortgage Loan Companies under the Residential Mortgage Loan Company Licensing and Registration Act, Tex. Fin. Code Ann. § 156.001 et seq., and (ii) licensed Mortgage Bankers and Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs) under the Mortgage Banker Registration and Residential Mortgage Loan Originator Act and the Texas Fair Enforcement for Mortgage License Act, Tex. Fin. Code Ann. § 157.001 et seq., included several substantive updates.

    The amendments to rules governing Mortgage Loan Company licensees include:

    • 7 TAC 80.300, which provides in part that a “primary contact person” instead of the qualifying individual will receive any notice of examination.
    • 7 TAC 80.101, .102, .105-.107, which sets forth new sponsorship requirements for MLOs, clarifies renewal procedures, and implements a 10-day notice requirement for any material changes made to a licensee’s Form MU1.
    • 7 TAC 80.203, .204, .206, which sets forth new requirements for advertising, records storage, office locations, branch offices, and administrative offices, including requirements for licensees engaging in remote work.
    • 7 TAC 80.2, which updates references to definitions.

    The amendments to rules governing Mortgage Banker and Mortgage Loan Originator licensees include:

    • 7 TAC 81.300, which provides in part that a “primary contact person” instead of the qualifying individual will receive any notice of examination.
    • 7 TAC 81.101-.111, which sets forth new sponsorship requirements for MLOs, clarifies renewal procedures, implements a 10-day notice requirement for any material changes made to a licensee’s Form MU4, details new background check procedures for MLOs, and provides new criteria for reviewing an MLO applicant’s criminal history.
    • 7 TAC 81.203, .204, .206, which sets forth new requirements for advertising, records storage, office locations, branch offices, and administrative offices, including requirements for licensees engaging in remote work.
    • 7 TAC 81.2, which updates references to definitions.

    These amendments are effective on November 4, 2021. It is recommended Mortgage Company, Mortgage Banker, and MLO licensees in Texas review the amendments to these new rules.

    Licensing Texas Mortgages Mortgage Lenders Mortgage Servicing State Issues Loan Origination Mortgage Licensing State Regulators

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  • NYDFS issues proposed amendments to debt collection rules for third-parties

    State Issues

    On October 29, NYDFS issued draft proposed amendments to 23 NYCRR 1, which regulates third-party debt collectors and debt buyers. Among on things, the proposed amendments:

    • Define “communication” as “the conveying of information regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium.”
    • Amend the definition of a “debt collector” to include “as any creditor that, in collecting its own debts, uses any name other than its own that would suggest or indicate that someone other than such creditor is collecting or attempting to collect such debts.”
    • Require collectors to clearly and conspicuously send written notification within five days after an initial communication with a consumer letting the consumer know specific information about the debt, including (i) the name of the creditor to which the debt was originally owed or alleged to be owed; (ii) account information associated with the debt; (iii) merchant/affinity/facility brand association; (iv) the name of the creditor to which the debt is currently owed; (v) the date of alleged default; (vi) the date the last payment (including any partial payment) was made; (vii) the statute of limitations, if applicable; (viii) an itemized accounting of the debt, including the amount currently due; and (ix) notice that the consumer “has the right to dispute the validity of the debt, in part or in whole, including instructions for how to dispute the validity of the debt.”
    • State that disclosures may not be sent exclusively through an electronic communication, and that a formal pleading in a civil action shall not be treated as an initial communication.
    • Prohibit collectors from communicating by telephone or other means of oral communication when attempting to collect on debts for which the statute of limitations has expired.
    • Require collectors to provide consumer written substantiation of a debt within 30 days of receiving a written request via mail (consumers who consent to receiving electronic communications must still receive substantiation via mail).
    • Limit collectors to three contact attempts via telephone in a seven-day period. Only one conversation with a consumer is permitted unless a consumer requests to be contacted.
    • Permit collectors to communicate with consumers through electronic channels only if the consumer has voluntarily provided consent directly to the debt collector.

    Comments on the proposal are due November 8.

    State Issues State Regulators NYDFS Bank Regulatory Debt Collection Third-Party Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • New York expands CRA requirements to non-depository mortgage lenders

    State Issues

    On November 1, the New York governor signed S5246A, which expands the New York Community Reinvestment Act (New York CRA) to cover non-depository lenders. Under the act, nonbank mortgage providers’ lending and investment in low- and moderate-income communities will be subject to NYDFS review. The anti-redlining law—which previously only measured banks’ activities in low- to moderate-income communities—is intended to “ensure everyone has fair and equal access to lending options in their pursuit of purchasing a home, especially in communities of color which continue to be impacted by the effects of the pandemic and have historically faced many more hurdles when seeking a mortgage,” Governor Kathy Hochul stated. The act follows a report issued by NYDFS in February, which examined redlining in the Buffalo metropolitan area and concluded that there is a “distinct lack of lending by mortgage lenders, particularly non-depository lenders” to majority-minority populations and to minority homebuyers in general. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) At the time, the report made numerous recommendations, including a recommendation to amend the New York CRA to cover nonbank mortgage lenders and a request that the OCC and the CFPB investigate federally regulated institutions serving the Buffalo area for violations of fair lending laws. The act takes effect in a year.

    State Issues State Regulators NYDFS Bank Regulatory CRA Non-Depository Institution Nonbank Redlining New York

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  • District Court denies defendant’s motion to dismiss Illinois BIPA class action

    Courts

    On October 28, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a Delaware-based technology management service defendant’s motion to dismiss a putative class action that alleged it stored and collected biometric data from employees of companies that utilized the defendant’s timekeeping services. The court also granted the plaintiff’s motion to remand two of her three claims to state court because the plaintiff had not alleged an injury in fact sufficient to establish Article III standing in federal court for those claims.

    The plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by selling time and attendance solutions to Illinois employers, including biometric-enabled hardware such as fingerprint and facial recognition scanners that collected and stored employee biometrics data. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated Section 15(a) of BIPA by failing to publish a retention schedule for the biometric data, violated Section 15(b) of BIPA by obtaining the plaintiff’s biometric data without first providing written disclosures and obtaining written consent, and violated section 15(c) of BIPA, by participating in the dissemination of her biometric data among servers. According to the district court, the plaintiff lacked standing regarding the Section 15(a) claim because the harm resulting from the defendant’s failure to publish a retention policy was not sufficiently particularized and the plaintiff had not otherwise alleged a concrete injury resulting from the violation. The district court concluded that the plaintiff’s Section 15(c) claim also lacked standing because, though she alleged that the defendant profits off its biometric data collection practices by marketing its biometric time clocks that utilize the software as “superior options” and “gains a competitive advantage”, the “complaint doesn't allege an injury in fact stemming from [the defendant’s] profiting off of [the plaintiff’s] biometric data.”

    With regard to the Section 15(b) claim, the district court rejected the defendant’s argument that the requirement to inform clients regarding its biometric data collection and receiving written consent did not apply, noting that the defendant is right that it “doesn’t penalize mere possession of biometric information.” However, that does not help the defendant “because the complaint alleges that defendant did more than possess [the plaintiff’s] biometric information: it says that [the defendant] collected and obtained it.” Additionally, the district court rejected the defendant’s argument that it is not liable as a third-party vendor who lacks the power to obtain the required written releases from its clients’ employees. The district court stated that “while it’s probably true that [the defendant] wasn’t in a position to impose a condition of employment on its clients’ employees, the statutory definition of a written waiver doesn’t excuse vendors like [the defendant] from securing their own waivers before obtaining a person’s data.”

    Courts BIPA Illinois Data Collection / Aggregation Class Action Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues

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  • DFPI addresses MTA licensure requirements in new letters

    Recently, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) released two new opinion letters covering aspects of the California Money Transmission Act (MTA) related to bitcoin automated teller machines (ATMs) and kiosks and the Agent of Payee exemption.

    • Bitcoin ATM Kiosk. The redacted opinion letter explains that the sale and purchase of bitcoin through ATMs/kiosks described by the inquiring company is not activity that is subject to licensure under the MTA. DFPI states that the customer’s purchase of bitcoin directly from the company “does not involve the sale or issuance of a payment instrument, the sale or issuance of stored value, or receiving money for transmission.” In each instance, the transaction would only be between the customer using the ATM/kiosk and the company, the bitcoin would be sent directly to the customer’s virtual currency wallet, no third parties are involved in the transmission, and the company does not hold digital wallets on behalf of customers. DFPI reminds the company that its determination is limited to the presented facts and circumstances and that any change could lead to a different conclusion. Moreover, the letter does not relieve the company from any FinCEN or federal regulatory obligations.
    • Agent of Payee Exemption. The redacted opinion letter analyzes a proposed future service to be provided by the inquiring company and determines whether the service meets the agent of payee exemption from the MTA. The company and its global affiliates “provide a global, fully integrated suite of back-end service, including sales compliance management, fraud prevention, risk management, tax and regulatory fee calculation, billing optimization, and remittance services to manufacturers, merchants, and retailers” (collectively, “brands”) that want to sell or license products and services to shoppers. The company proposes a future service, which will allow brands to sell products directly to shoppers and transfer the products to the shoppers. The company will not take title to or purchase the products and will continue to provide its suite of back-end services including payment processing, tax and regulatory fees calculations, and refund processing. The company’s contracts with the brands appoint the company as the agent of the brands for facilitating product sales and receiving payments and funds from shoppers. Agreements will also be entered between the company and the shoppers with terms that state a shopper’s payment to the company is considered payment to the brand, which extinguishes the shopper’s payment liability. The company will accept funds for the sale of products on behalf of the brands, and at the conclusion of the sale, will settle the funds paid by the shoppers and remit sales taxes to the appropriate authorities. The company will be the entity responsible for paying and reporting taxes accrued by the sales to shoppers.

    DFPI states that the company will “receive[] money for transmission,” thus triggering the license requirement in the MTA, by receiving funds from the shoppers in the sales transactions. However, the company qualifies for the Agent of Payee exemption because the company will be the recipient of money from the shoppers as an agent of the brands pursuant to a written contract, and payments from the shoppers to the company as the agent will satisfy the shoppers’ payment obligation to the brands. DFPI further notes that refunds facilitated by the company on behalf of the brands will be a reversal of the original transactions with the shoppers, and therefore will not require licensure. Finally, DFPI notes that by contract, the company will be legally responsible for paying local sales taxes on transactions. According to the agreement, because the company will pay taxes on its own behalf, and will not be paying taxes owed by the shoppers, its tax payments will not constitute money transmission. DFPI reminds the company that its determination is limited to the presented facts and circumstances and that any change could lead to a different conclusion.

    Licensing State Issues DFPI State Regulators California Money Transmission Act Virtual Currency Money Service / Money Transmitters

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  • 9th Circuit denies bid to block Arizona’s dealer data privacy law

    Courts

    On October 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court’s order denying a motion for preliminary injunction against enforcement of an Arizona statute designed to strengthen privacy protections for consumers whose data is collected by auto dealers. Under the Dealer Law, database providers are prohibited from limiting access to dealer data by dealer-authorized third parties and are required to create a standardized framework to facilitate access. The plaintiffs—technology companies that license dealer management systems (DMS)—sued the Arizona attorney general and the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association in an attempt to stop the Dealer Law from taking effect. The plaintiffs contended that the Dealer Law is preempted by the Copyright Act because it gives dealers the right to access plaintiff’s systems and create unlicensed copies of its dealer management system, application programming interfaces, and data compilations. The plaintiffs further claimed the Dealer Law is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s contracts clause.

    On appeal, the 9th Circuit agreed that the plaintiffs were not entitled to a preliminary injunction. The appellate court concluded that the Dealer Law was not preempted by the Copyright Act, because, among other things, the plaintiffs could comply with the Dealer Law without having to create a new copy of its software to process third-party requests. Moreover, the 9th Circuit noted that even if the plaintiffs had to create copies of their DMS on their servers to process third-party requests, they failed to established that those copies would infringe their reproduction right, and the copies the plaintiffs took objection to “would be copies of its own software running on its own servers and not shared with anyone else.” The appellate court further held that the Dealer Law was not a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s contracts clause because, among other things, plaintiffs did not show that complying with the Dealer Law prevented them from being able to keep dealer data confidential. “Promoting consumer data privacy and competition plainly qualify as legitimate public purposes,” the appellate court wrote. “[Plaintiffs] point[] out that the Arizona Legislature did not make findings specifying that those were the purposes motivating the enactment of the statute, but it was not required to do so. The purposes are apparent on the face of the law.”

    Courts Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security State Issues Consumer Protection State Attorney General Arizona Ninth Circuit Appellate

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  • Creditor must pay fine for collecting debts under a different name

    Recently, the Connecticut Department of Banking entered into a consent order with a North Carolina-based company resolving allegations that it violated Connecticut collection practices laws and regulations by allegedly using a name other than the company’s legal name when collecting unpaid debts without a Connecticut consumer collection agency license. The Department’s investigation stemmed from a newspaper article in which a Connecticut resident complained that he received bills from a company in an attempt to collect $314 for a Covid-19 test. The company responded to the Department’s inquiry by stating that a collection agency license was not required because the collections were made by an in-house division of the company, and not on behalf of a third party. The company also cited cases in which federal courts dismissed similar allegations under the federal FDCPA. After an investigation, the Department alleged that the company constituted as a “creditor” and by using a different name, was in violation of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, “which prohibits the use of any business, company or organization name other than the true name of the creditor’s organization.” The consent order requires that the company pay a civil money penalty of $10,000 and that the company cease and desist from using any name other than its true legal name to collect debts.

    Licensing State Issues Connecticut Enforcement Debt Collection FDCPA

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  • NMLS seeks comments on changes to Money Services Businesses Call Report

    On October 18, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) issued a request for public comments on behalf of NMLS-participating state regulatory agencies on proposed changes to the NMLS Money Services Businesses Call Report (MSBCR). The MSBCR seeks to create “a nationwide repository of standardized information available to state regulators concerning the financial condition and activities of their Money Services Businesses licensees.” CSBS requests comments on edits to existing virtual currency transaction line items, new virtual currency line items addressing activities not already covered, revisions to the definition of existing permissible investments, and edits to definitions and titles of existing financial condition line items. Comments are due December 17.

    Licensing NMLS Money Service Business CSBS State Issues State Regulators

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  • NYDFS seeks to implement Commercial Finance Disclosure Law

    State Issues

    On October 20, NYDFS published a notice announcing a proposed regulation (23 NYCRR 600) to implement New York’s Commercial Finance Disclosure Law (CFDL) (covered by InfoBytes here). The CFDL was enacted at the end of December 2020, and amended in February to expand coverage and delay the effective date to January 1, 2022. (See S5470-B, as amended by S898.) Under the CFDL, providers of commercial financing, which includes persons and entities who solicit and present specific offers of commercial financing on behalf of a third party, are required to give consumer-style loan disclosures to potential recipients when a specific offering of finance is extended for certain commercial transactions of $2.5 million or less.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, NYDFS solicited comments on a pre-proposed regulation released last month, which, among other things, (i) specified persons and entities required to comply with the regulation; (ii) defined terms used within the CFDL, including “commercial financing” and “finance change”; (iii) explained APR rate calculations and allowed tolerances; (iv) outlined specific disclosure requirements, including formatting and signature requirements; and (vi) detailed several provisions related to commercial financings that offer multiple payment options, certain duties of financers and brokers involved in commercial financing, record retention requirements, and the reporting process for certain providers that calculate estimated annual percentage rates.

    The proposed regulation made several changes to the pre-proposed regulation based on comments NYDFS received. These include:

    • Modifying the definition of when a specific offer is made that triggers the requirement to provide a disclosure. NYDFS stated that this change “should allow for some negotiations between borrowers and lenders before disclosures are required.”
    • Adding the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) as an acceptable rate index for use in adjustable-rate financings due to the cessation of LIBOR at the end of the year.
    • Clarifying the definition of a “broker” to be “defined in terms of the substantive services they perform during the underwriting process.”
    • Modifying the allowed tolerances when calculating APRs as required under Part 600.04. For most transactions, NYDFS explained that the tolerance threshold will remain one-eighth of one percent. For irregular transactions, NYDFS proposed a larger tolerance of one-quarter of one percent.

    Additionally, the proposed regulation provides that the compliance date for the final regulation will be six months after the final adoption and publication of the regulation in the State Register. Comments on the proposed regulation are due December 19.

    State Issues State Regulators NYDFS Disclosures Commercial Finance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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