CFPB Publishes Report on Student Loan Complaints, Issues Income-Driven Repayment “Fix It” Form

On August 18, the CFPB published a report to provide a midyear update on student loan complaints, focusing on “problems for borrowers who submit an application to enroll in or recertify income and family size under an income-driven-repayment (IDR) plan.” The report analyzes student borrower complaints related to IDR plans and offers recommendations to “address the challenges identified in [those] complaints.” The report analyzes complaints submitted from October 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016 and finds that “borrowers encounter obstacles when submitting applications for IDR plans, including poor customer service, unexpected delays, lost paperwork, and inconsistent or inaccurate application processing.” The CFPB recommends that student loan servicers take “immediate action,” to address challenges with IDR processing, highlighting the policy guidance recently issued by the Department of Education as a “roadmap to strengthen practices related to the handling of IDR applications” and releasing an IDR Application Fix It Form (Fix It Form). Developed by the CFPB, the Fix It Form is a prototype that can be adopted by servicers seeking to adopt the recommendations in the report and is designed to “document[] any deficiencies with borrowers’ IDR applications and communicates to borrowers about how to address the deficiencies and get their applications back on track.”

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Federal Banking Agencies Disclose Reported 2015 CRA Lending Data

On August 18, the OCC, the FDIC, and the Federal Reserve announced the availability of a 2015 data fact sheet on small business, small farm, and community development lending as reported by certain commercial banks and savings associations pursuant to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Less comprehensive than the data reported pursuant to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the CRA data includes the number and dollar amount of community development loans and small business and small farm loans originated or purchased. It also indicates whether a small business or farm loan is extended to a borrower with yearly revenues of $1 million or less and combines those loans into three categories based on size, which are reported at a census tract level. CRA data does not cover loan applications that were denied or applicant demographic information, and it is not completed on a loan-by-loan basis. According to the data fact sheet, “caution should be used in drawing conclusions from analyses using only CRA data, as differences in loan volume across areas may reflect differences in local demand for credit.”

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FTC Orders Auto Dealers to Pay $85,000 Civil Penalty over Allegedly Deceptive Advertising Practices

On August 18, the FTC announced that three Texas-based auto dealers will pay an $85,000 civil penalty to resolve allegations that they violated a 2014 administrative order prohibiting them from deceptively advertising the cost of buying or leasing a car. The FTC complaint alleges, among other things, that since receiving the 2014 order, the auto dealers frequently misrepresented offers to finance or lease motor vehicles by “focusing only on a few attractive items, such as a low monthly payment or annual percentage rate, while concealing material terms that add significant extra costs or that limit who can qualify for the advertised prices.” In addition to the $85,000 civil penalty, the proposed consent order bars the defendants from (i) deceptively advertising a vehicle’s cost of purchase with financing, the cost of leasing, or any other material fact regarding price, sale, financing or leasing; (ii) misrepresenting who is likely to receive financing or leasing and who qualifies for specific finance or lease terms; and (iii) violating the Truth in Lending Act’s and the Consumer Leasing Act’s requirements to clearly and conspicuously disclose credit and lease terms.

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FTC Announces Agenda for Ransomware Event

On September 7, the FTC will host its first in a series of events to look at emerging technologies raising consumer privacy and security concerns. Scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., the first event will focus on ransomware, “one of the most challenging cybersecurity problems affecting consumers and businesses.” Panelists will discuss the scope and state of ransomware, the best defenses against it, and how victims should respond to hacker demands. The FTC will host the second and third events in the series on October 13 and December 7 with emphases on drones and smart TVs, respectively.

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Houston-Based Company Disgorges $5 Million to Settle SEC Enforcement Action

In an SEC cease and desist order filed on August 11, Key Energy Services, Inc., a Houston-based provider of rig-based oil well services, agreed to disgorge $5 million to settle charges that the company violated the books and records and internal control provisions of the FCPA. According to the order, from August 2010 through at least April 2013, Key Energy’s Mexican subsidiary paid bribes of at least $229,000 to a contract employee at Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the Mexican state-owned oil and gas company. In exchange, the subsidiary received Pemex non-public information, advice and assistance on contracts with Pemex, and lucrative amplifications or amendments to those contracts. The funds were allegedly funneled through an entity purporting to provide consulting services, but for which there was no evidence of appropriate authorization of the relationship, and no supporting documentation regarding the purported consulting work performed. According to the SEC, the subsidiary improperly recorded the transfers to the consulting firm as legitimate business expenses, which were consolidated into Key Energy’s books and records. Key Energy allegedly failed to implement and maintain sufficient internal controls, including within the subsidiary relating to interactions with Pemex officials, and failed to respond to indications that the subsidiary was improperly using consultants. Read more…

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