CFPB Issues Spring 2016 Rulemaking Agenda

On May 18, the CFPB released an overview of its Spring 2016 Rulemaking Agenda, which outlines the CFPB’s current initiatives. In addition to summarizing the CFPB’s recently released proposed rule to ban pre-dispute arbitration clauses in future consumer agreements, the agenda states that the CFPB expects to release this Summer (i) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding small dollar loan products, including payday loans and auto title loan; (ii) a rule to finalize its November 2014 proposed rule on prepaid products; (iii) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to provide clarity concerning its TRID Know Before You Owe mortgage rule; and (iv) a final rule to amend its 2014 proposed rule revising certain provisions of mortgage servicing requirements under RESPA and TILA. The agenda further comments on the CFPB’s oversight of (i) overdraft services on checking accounts, noting that the agency “is engaged in pre-rule making activities to consider potential regulation” of such services;  (ii) debt collection practices, observing that the agency is in the process of developing proposed rules to further regulate the industry; (iii) nonbank institutions, emphasizing the CFPB’s rulemaking efforts to further define larger participants of certain markets for consumer financial products and services; and (iv) mortgage markets, highlighting CFPB efforts to implement “critical consumer protections under the Dodd-Frank Act.” Finally, the agenda comments that the CFPB is in the “very early stages starting work to implement section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to require financial institutions to report information concerning credit applications made by women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses.”

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CFPB Releases Auto Title Report; Sets Date for Small Dollar Lending Field Hearing

On May 18, the CFPB issued a report titled “Single-Payment Vehicle Title Lending.” The report provides an overview of the CFPB’s analysis of “de-identified data from vehicle title lenders consisting of nearly 3.5 million loans made to over 400,000 borrowers in ten states during 2010-2013.” The CFPB examined loan patterns (re-borrowing and rates of default) for single-payment auto loan titles. A loan contained in the CFPB’s study has three possible outcomes: (i) repaid without subsequent borrowing; (ii) default; or (iii) re-borrowing on the same day or within a certain specified period (14, 30, or 60 days) of time after repayment. According to the report, auto title loans have high rates of consumers re-borrowing: “[o]ver 80% of vehicle title loans are re-borrowed on the same day a previous loan is repaid, and 87% of loans are re-borrowed within 60 days.” The CFPB further contends that only about one in every eight loan sequences is repaid without a consumer having to re-borrow. Additional findings highlighted in the report include: (i) approximately one-third of loan sequences default, with one in every five borrowers having a vehicle repossessed by the lender for failure to repay; and (ii) approximately two-thirds of the loans are in sequences of seven loans or more and about half are in sequences of ten or more loans, with no more than 15% of the sequences maintaining three loans or fewer. Read more…

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CFPB Files Complaint Against Payday Lending Company for Alleged Deceptive Practices

On May 11, the CFPB filed a complaint for alleged violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA) against a Mississippi-based company offering cash checking services and payday loans. Regarding the company’s check cashing services, the CFPB alleges that the company violated state consumer protection laws by (i) explicitly forbidding employees from disclosing check cashing fees to consumers and providing new employees with a training presentation instructing them to “NEVER TELL THE CUSTOMER THE FEE”; and (ii) telling consumers that check transactions could not be canceled or that the process to reverse transactions would be lengthy, when neither was the case. The CFPB’s complaint further contends that the company’s payday lending practices differ from other companies’ practices in that it provides “multiple two-week loans over the course of the month” as opposed to providing 30-day loans to monthly consumers. Read more…

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SEC Awards At Least $5 Million to Whistleblower

On May 17, the SEC announced that a former company insider will receive between $5 million and $6 million for providing a “detailed tip” that led the agency to uncover securities violations. According to the SEC, without the whistleblower’s information, the violations would have been “nearly impossible” to detect. Since the SEC started its whistleblower program in 2011, the agency has awarded more than $67 million to 29 whistleblowers. The SEC’s most recent award is its third highest and follows a $3.5 million award announced last week.

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OFAC Amends Burmese Sanctions Regulations

On May 17, OFAC amended the Burmese Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 537 by adding a general license to authorize most transactions related to U.S. persons residing in Burma that are otherwise prohibited by the Regulations, including paying rent and purchasing goods and services for personal use. In addition, the amendments add general licenses to (i) extend indefinitely General License 20, which authorizes transactions “ordinarily incident to exports to or from Burma that are otherwise prohibited involving an individual or company that is designated or otherwise blocked by OFAC’s sanctions”; and (ii) support trade-related transactions by permitting certain transactions incident to the movement of goods within Burma. OFAC also updated an existing general license to authorize most banking services involving Innwa Bank and Myawaddy Bank (two currently designated financial institutions in Burma) and terminated sanctions on Myanma Economic Bank, Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank,  and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, which, taken together,  authorizes “most transactions involving all Burmese financial institutions.”

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