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  • FDIC releases comprehensive report on international, systemically important banks

    On April 10, the FDIC released a report on the FDIC’s plans and readiness to step in as a receiver for a financial company under Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act. The FDIC Chairman said this report was the “most detailed description to date of the FDIC’s preparedness to use its Title II resolution authority.”

    The report provided background on resolution-related authorities under Dodd-Frank, highlighted key measures that provided readiness of resolution under Title II authority, reviewed strategic decision-making for the use of such authority, and explained how the Commission expects to undertake a Title II resolution of a Global Systematically Important U.S. Bank (GSIB) using a Single Point of Entry (SPOE) resolution strategy. FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said that such a resolution “will be a challenging process under any circumstance, with a number of steps that need to be taken quickly and in close coordination with a range of stakeholders.”

    Under the SPOE resolution strategy, the FDIC would place only the holding company of the GSIB into receivership. The FDIC then would establish a bridge financial company under its control and would transfer the operating subsidiaries to the bridge institution. The bridge institution and its subsidiaries would remain operating while the FDIC performed its receivership duties, including the claims process. The final stage of GSIB receivership would be the implementation of a restructuring and wind-down plan that would aim to maintain value, address the causes of the failure, and transition operations. Chairman Gruenberg also noted that orderly resolution of a GSIB has not been executed before, “so there will be questions on whether it can be done.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues FDIC Liquidity

  • CFPB reports on consumer reporting companies’ lack of compliance

    Federal Issues

    On April 8, the CFPB released its Supervisory Highlights on consumer reporting companies (CRC) and furnishers from April to December 2023. With respect to CRCs, the CFPB found deficiencies related to (i) placing identity theft blocks on consumer reports, (ii) blocking adverse items identified by a consumer as the result of human trafficking, and (iii) the accuracy of information in consumer reports.

    For identity theft, the CFPB noted that some CRCs automatically declined to implement identity theft blocks based on overly broad, disqualifying criteria that did not support a reasonable determination, in violation of the FCRA. CRCs also failed to properly notify these customers that they declined these identity blocks. 

    Regulation V required CRCs to block adverse items of information identified by a consumer from human trafficking. While CRCs must block these items within four business days of such request, the CFPB found CRCs either failed to timely block these items or that CRCs blocked some, but not all such items. 

    In failing to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of consumer reports, the CFPB found that CRCs (i) inadequately monitored dispute metrics that may suggest a furnisher would not a reliable source of information about consumers, and (ii) failed to implement procedures to ensure the accuracy of information provided by unreliable furnishers and continued to include such information in reports.

    With respect to furnishers, the CFPB similarly found deficiencies in accuracy, dispute investigation, and identity theft requirements. Specifically, CFPB examiners found that furnishers reported incomplete or inaccurate information for several months or even years after determining the information was incomplete or inaccurate. Additionally, furnishers that received direct disputes both continued to report such information and failed to notify CRCs of the disputed information. The report also noted that furnishers who received proper identity theft reports continued to furnish information regarding the consumer before confirming the accuracy of the information with the consumer.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Reporting Consumer Reporting Agency FCRA Regulation V

  • CFPB reaches toward in-game video game market and its consumer protection issues

    Federal Issues

    On April 4, the CFPB released a report titled “Banking in video games and virtual worlds” that examined the gaming industry and the consumer financial systems that affect it. The Bureau’s report identified three key findings: (i) a network of financial products and services has entered the gaming industry to leverage and support the transfer of gaming assets and currency; (ii) the increased value of these assets has led to an increase of hacking attempts, account theft, scams, and unauthorized transactions; and (iii) the consumer data collected by gaming companies was bought, sold, and traded between companies, which can pose a risk to gaming customers. As a result, the CFPB will intend to monitor these issues in gaming and other such non-traditional markets to ensure companies comply with federal consumer financial protection laws.

    The report noted that the proliferation of gaming and the evolution of the industry to offering in-game purchases and gaming assets has created the need for an infrastructure to enable fiat currency to flow into and out of games and virtual worlds. This can include transactions within the game, trading virtual items with other players, buying products on secondary markets, converting gaming assets to traditional currency, withdrawals of that currency, and/or using third parties to convert and withdraw the currency. As a result, companies have established financial products and services that increasingly resemble traditional financial products, like loans, payment processing, and money transmission. 

    In addition to the gaming economy creating a relatively new and unregulated financial marketplace, the Bureau identified additional risks similar to those found in the traditional market surrounding fraud, identity theft, money laundering, and privacy. For example, the report noted that these highly valuable gaming assets have made player accounts vulnerable to phishing and hacking attempts as well as unauthorized transactions. However, efforts by the FTC or CFPB to address complaints related to this activity have been met with a “buyer beware” approach by gaming companies. 

    Further, gaming companies collect a significant amount of data on players as a way to personalize the experience.  However, the companies use this data to monetize gameplay to entice more spending as well as buy, sell and trade this data. The report noted that (i) the use of personal data can result in highly individualized pricing and (ii) the storage and transfer of consumer data poses privacy risks for gamers. In light of these various issues, the CFPB plans to work with other agencies to monitor both these non-traditional financial products and services as well as the companies that collect and sell sensitive consumer data.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Protection Video Games Digital Wallets

  • CFPB Director speaks on new and proposed rules for “data brokers”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On April 2, the Director of the CFPB, Rohit Chopra, delivered a speech at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy highlighting President Biden’s recent Executive Order (EO) to Protect Americans’ Sensitive Personal Data and how the CFPB will plan to develop rules to regulate “data brokers” under FCRA. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the President’s EO ordered several agencies, including the CFPB, to better protect Americans’ data. Chopra highlighted how the EO not only covered data breaches but also regulated “data brokers” that ingest and sell data. According to the EO, “Commercial data brokers… can sell [data] to countries of concern, or entities controlled by those countries, and it can land in the hands of foreign intelligence services, militaries, or companies controlled by foreign governments.”

    Consistent with the President’s EO, the CFPB will plan to propose rules this year that will regulate “data brokers,” as per its authority under FCRA. Specifically, the proposed rules would include data brokers within the definition of “consumer reporting agency”; further, a company’s sale of consumer payment or income data would be considered a “consumer report” subject to requirements, like accuracy, customer disputes, and other provisions prohibiting misuse of the data.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues CFPB Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Executive Order Data Brokers

  • CFPB reports three findings on the relationship between discount points and interest rates

    Federal Issues

    On April 5, the CFPB issued a report on the relationship between trends in discount points and interest rates. The report used HMDA data between Q1 of 2019 and Q3 of 2023 when interest rates were at “record-highs” and before the Federal Reserve announced its intention to lower interest rates. The CFPB found that (i) the majority of borrowers paid discount points, (ii) more borrowers paid discount points as interest rates increased, and (iii) borrowers with low credit scores were even more likely to pay discount points. Delving deeper into the data, 87 percent of borrowers with cash-out refinances paid discount points (up from 61 percent in 2021), and borrowers with cash-out refinance loans paid twice the number of discount points compared to other borrowers (with a median of 2.1 points per loan). Additionally, almost 77 percent of FHA borrowers with a credit score below 640 paid discount points compared to 65 percent of all FHA borrowers. Considering these trends, the CFPB will plan to monitor the use of discount points and weigh the advantages against the potential risks to borrowers.      

    Federal Issues CFPB Interest Rate Discount Points HMDA FHA

  • FDIC’s Consumer Compliance report outlines most frequently cited violations and observations

    On March 28, the FDIC released its March 2024 version of the Consumer Compliance Supervisory Highlights from the previous year, a report that enhanced transparency regarding the FDIC’s consumer compliance supervisory activities. The FDIC reported 16 formal enforcement actions and another 16 informal enforcement actions to address consumer compliance examination findings. The report highlighted how the FDIC conducted almost 900 consumer compliance examinations. The top five most frequently cited violations of moderate severity (levels two and three out of five of supervisory concern), which represented 74 percent of the total violations, included, in order from most frequently cited to least: TILA, and its implementing regulation, Regulation Z; the Flood Disaster Protection Act (FDPA) and its implementing regulation, Part 339; EFTA, and its implementing regulation, Regulation E; TISA, and its implementing regulation, Regulation DD; and Section 5 of the FTC Act. The report noted how Section 5 of the FTC Act dropped from the second most frequently cited to the fifth.

    The FDIC’s report outlined the most significant consumer compliance examination observations including the misuse of the FDIC’s logo, advertising of credit builder products, electronic fund transfer (EFT) error resolutions by third parties, mortgage broker relationships, and fair lending compliance. On the misuse of the FDIC’s logo, the FDIC found “a number of third parties” misrepresented the FDIC’s deposit insurance in violation of Section 18(a)(4) of the FDI Act. On substantiating claims in the advertising of credit builder products, the FDIC found that institutions collaborated with fintech companies on credit builder products and falsely advertised “these products would improve” one’s credit score, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. On EFTs handled by third parties, the FDIC identified an issue with a security program in validating customer transactions in violation of Regulation E of EFTA. On payments for mortgage brokerage services, the FDIC found RESPA Section 8 violations involving mortgage broker relationships. On oversight of third parties, the FDIC identified issues with an institution that partnered with third-party lenders to offer unsecured consumer loans, finding the institution violated Section 39 of the FDI Act. Last and on fair lending, the FDIC found that most of the DOJ’s referral matters pertinent to discrimination related to redlining, automobile financing, and credit underwriting.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues FDIC Enforcement FTC Act TILA

  • CFPB, FTC submit amicus brief in FCRA case

    Federal Issues

    On March 29, the CFPB and the FTC filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, arguing that the FCRA mandated consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) when a consumer challenged the “completeness or accuracy of any item or information” in their file, must perform a “reasonable reinvestigation.”

    In the underlying case, a consumer claimed she identified multiple inaccuracies in her credit report held by the defendant CRA, including issues with her name, address, and Social Security number. She allegedly contacted the defendant three times to dispute these errors, but the defendant directed her to resolve the issues with the misinformation sources and did not conduct its own reinvestigation as the consumer believed was required by the FCRA.

    The consumer then filed a lawsuit against the defendant CRA for not performing the reinvestigation. The district court acknowledged that the defendant should have completed the reinvestigation under the FCRA but nonetheless concluded that the defendant did not violate the statute because it did not reasonably interpret that the FCRA did not require a reinvestigation.

    The case will now be under the appeal process and the CFPB and FTC have submitted a joint amicus brief arguing that the FCRA required a CRA to reinvestigate a consumer’s dispute about personal identifying information, and that the district court correctly determined that a reinvestigation was required. The brief also argued that the district nonetheless erred in concluding that the defendant did not negligently or willfully violate the FCRA because the defendant’s interpretation of the FCRA was not “objectively reasonable.”  

    Federal Issues Courts CRA CFPB FTC Amicus Brief

  • FTC to hold an informal hearing on its proposed “junk fee” rules

    Federal Issues

    On March 27, the FTC published a notice in the Federal Register informing the public of its decision to hold an informal hearing on its proposed rule prohibiting “junk fees.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, the FTC released a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) titled “Rule on Unfair or Deceptive Fees” and extended the comment period last October. In the NPRM, the FTC presented the opportunity for any party to present their positions orally. The FTC announced that 17 commenters requested to partake in the informal hearing by presenting oral statements and an administrative law judge for the FTC will serve as the presiding officer. The informal hearing will be presented virtually on April 24 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. The hearing will be presented live to the public on the FTC’s website, and a recording will be placed in the rulemaking record.

    Federal Issues FTC Junk Fees ALJ

  • State AGs sue to block Biden's SAVE Plan for student loan forgiveness

    Federal Issues

    On April 1, 10 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas against President Biden, the Secretary of Education, and the Department of Education seeking to block the enactment of the SAVE Plan. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the SAVE Plan was an income-driven repayment plan, intended to calculate payments based on a borrower’s income and family size, rather than the loan balance, and forgave balances after several years since repayment. According to the complaint, the government released a rule for the new SAVE Plan intended to eliminate at least $156 billion in student debt as the second step in a three-part loan forgiveness initiative. The first step involved an attempt to cancel $430 billion in student loans under the HEROES Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in Biden v. Nebraska.

    The SAVE Plan assumed $430 billion in loans would be forgiven beforehand, but after the Supreme Court's decision, the defendants allegedly did not revise the cost estimate in anticipation of overturning the case. This oversight led to a significant underestimation of the SAVE Plan's true cost; plaintiffs alleged.

    Plaintiffs further claimed that the SAVE Plan was written before the Supreme Court's ruling in Biden v. Nebraska and thus included outdated statements of confidence in the defendants' authority to pursue debt relief. The rule would take effect on July 1, but defendants allegedly have already started forgiving loans for some individuals before this date. The complaint alleged that on February 21, the Department of Education forgave the debt of 153,000 borrowers, which the state attorneys general claimed violated Biden v. Nebraska.

    Plaintiffs brought claims under the Administrative Procedure Act, contending that the Department of Education exceeded its authority under the Higher Education Act of 1965 by issuing the rule and that the rule would be arbitrary and capricious since defendants failed to account for the full cost of the rule.

    Federal Issues Courts State Attorney General SAVE Plan Student Loans Biden

  • OCC releases Q4 report on first-lien mortgage performance

    On March 19, the OCC released a report on the performance of first-lien mortgages in the federal banking system during the fourth quarter of 2023. According to the report, 97.2 percent of mortgages included in the report were current and performing at the end of the quarter, which is a slight improvement from the fourth quarter of 2022, but also a minor decline from the third quarter of 2023. The report also shows

    • a rise in the percentage of seriously delinquent mortgages compared to the previous quarter (1.2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to 1.1 percent in the third quarter), but this percentage has trended down since the fourth quarter of 2021 (when it was 2.3 percent);
    • a decline in new foreclosures, with 8,320 new foreclosures in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared to 8,965 new foreclosures the previous quarter and a high of 19,524 new foreclosures in the first quarter of 2022;
    • finalization of 7,382 loan modifications, which was less than the 7,436 modifications completed in the prior quarter. Eighty-seven percent of the modifications were “combination modifications,” which are modifications that incorporate more than one type of modification action to improve the loan’s affordability, such as an interest rate reduction and a loan term extension.

    First-lien mortgages account for 22.2 percent of the total outstanding residential mortgage debt in the country, representing approximately 11.7 million loans with a combined principal balance of $2.9 trillion. 

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues OCC Mortgages Foreclosure

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