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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.
On May 10, the New Jersey governor signed S 52, which amends the state’s data breach notification provisions. The amendments expand the definition of “personal information” to include “user name, email address, or any other account holder identifying information, in combination with any password or security question and answer that would permit access to an online account.” The amendment further permits breached entities to provide individuals, whose account access credentials have been compromised, with the opportunity to promptly change online account information, so long as the notification is not sent to an email account subject to the security breach. The amendments take effect on September 1.
On May 7, the Washington governor signed HB 1071, which amends the state’s data breach notification law to, among other things, (i) narrow the window for post-breach notification to affected individuals and to the state Attorney General, if applicable, from 45 days to 30 days after discovery; (ii) require notifications to contain the date of the breach and the date of the discovery of the breach, if known; (iii) permit electronic notification to affected individuals, which must instruct them to promptly change passwords and security questions or answers, as applicable; and (iv) significantly expand the items included in the notice to the Attorney General, including a summary of steps taken to contain the breach. In addition, HB 1071 expands the definition of “personal information” to include, among other things, the full birth date; a private key unique to an individual that is used to authenticate or sign electronic records; student, military, or passport ID numbers; health insurance identification numbers; biometric data or medical history; and user names and email addresses combined with passwords or security questions. The amendments take effect March 1, 2020.
On May 6, the Indiana governor signed HB 1183, which amends the state statute concerning the release of an abandoned motor vehicle that has been towed to a storage yard or towing facility. Among other things, the bill revises notification requirements for towed vehicles, providing that a public agency or towing service must conduct a search of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent database to attempt to obtain the name of the person who owns or holds a lien on the vehicle and contact that person within three days regarding charges and the potential to auction the vehicle if not claimed. The bill also provides inspection rights for owners and lienholders of vehicles and allows for a towing service or storage yard to charge an inspection fee for inspections or retrievals from the vehicle. The bill is effective July 1.
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss "Navigating the challenges of the latest data protection regulations and proven protocols for breach prevention and response" at the ACI National Forum on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Government Enforcement
- Tim Lange to discuss "Ease your pain at the state level: Recommendations for navigating the licensing issues in the states" at the Online Lenders Alliance Compliance University
- Amanda R. Lawrence, Aaron C. Mahler, and Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Expanded role for the FTC ahead: Implications for bank and nonbank financial institutions" at an American Bar Association Banking Law Committee Webinar
- Buckley Webcast: Flirting with alternatives — Opportunities and challenges created by alternative data, modeling, and technology
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Reporting requirements for credit unions: CTRs and SARs" at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions BSA Seminar
- Daniel P. Stipano and Moorari K. Shah to discuss "Vendor management: What is the NCUA looking for?" at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions BSA Seminar
- Sasha Leonhardt and John B. Williams to discuss "Privacy" at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions Summer Regulatory Compliance School
- Warren W. Traiger to discuss "CRA modernization" at the National Association of Industrial Bankers and the Utah Association of Financial Services Annual Convention
- Benjamin W. Hutten to discuss "Requirements for banking inherently high-risk relationships" at the Georgia Bankers Association BSA Experience Program
- Hank Asbill to discuss "Ethical guidance in conducting internal investigations – The intersection of Yates and Upjohn" at the American Bar Association Southeastern White Collar Crime Institute
- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "RESPA Section 8/referrals: How do you stay compliant?" at the New England Mortgage Bankers Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Risk management in enforcement actions: Managing risk or micromanaging it" at the American Bar Association Business Law Section Annual Meeting
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Navigating the conflicting federal and state laws for doing business with cannabis companies" at the American Bar Association Business Law Section Annual Meeting
- Tim Lange to discuss "Services and value" at the North American Collection Agency Regulatory Association Annual Conference
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss "Data privacy litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Brandy A. Hood to discuss "How to ace your TRID exam" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "HMDA data is out, now what?" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Assessing the CDD final rule: A year of transitions" at the ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Lessons learned from recent enforcement actions and CMPs" at the ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to discuss "Navigating FHA rules and regs" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "The state’s role in fintech: Providing an industry framework for innovation" at Lend360
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss "How to balance a successful (and stressful) career with greater personal well-being" at the American Bar Association Women in Litigation Joint CLE Conference