Special Alert: CFPB Takes Enforcement Action Against “Buy-Here, Pay-Here” Auto Dealer for Alleged Unfair Collection and Credit Reporting Tactics

On November 19, the CFPB announced an enforcement action against a ‘buy-here, pay-here’ auto dealer alleging unfair debt collection practices and the furnishing of inaccurate information about customers to credit reporting agencies. ‘Buy-here, pay-here’ auto dealers typically do not assign their retail installment sale contracts (RISCs) to unaffiliated finance companies or banks, and therefore are subject to the CFPB’s enforcement authority. Consistent with the position it staked out in CFPB Bulletin 2013-07, in this enforcement action the CFPB appears to have applied specific requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to the dealer in its capacity as a creditor based on the CFPB’s broader authority over unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts practices.

Alleged Violations

The CFPB charges that the auto dealer violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act, 12 U.S.C. §§ 5531, 5536, which prohibits unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices, by (i) repeatedly calling customers at work, despite being asked to stop; (ii) repeatedly calling the references of customers, despite being asked to stop; and (iii) making excessive, repeated calls to wrong numbers in efforts to reach customers who fell behind on their auto loan payments. Specifically, the CFPB alleges that the auto dealer used a third-party database to “skip trace” for new phone numbers of its customers. As a result, numerous wrong parties were contacted who asked to stop receiving calls. Despite their requests, the auto dealer allegedly failed to prevent calls to these wrong parties or did not remove their contact information from its system.

In addition, the CFPB alleges that the auto dealer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by (i) providing inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies; (ii) improperly handling consumer disputes regarding furnished information; and (iii) not establishing and implementing “reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of the information relating to [customers] that it furnishes to a consumer reporting agency.” Specifically, the CFPB alleges that, since 2010, the auto dealer did not review or update its written furnishing policies, despite knowing that conversion to its third-party servicing platform had led to widespread inaccuracies in furnished information. Also, the consent order alleges that the auto dealer received more than 22,000 credit disputes per year, including disputes regarding the timing of repossessions and dates of first delinquency for charged-off accounts, but nevertheless furnished inaccurate information. Read more…

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Special Alert: Federal Court Vacates HUD’s Disparate Impact Rule

Today, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated HUD’s Disparate Impact Rule under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).  The court, in American Insurance Association v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, held that “the FHA prohibits disparate treatment only,” and therefore HUD, in promulgating the Disparate Impact Rule, “exceeded [its] authority under the [Administrative Procedures Act].”  (emphasis in original).

In the Disparate Impact Rule, HUD provided that “[l]iability may be established under the Fair Housing Act based on a practice’s discriminatory effect . . . even if the practice was not motivated by a discriminatory intent.”  24 C.F.R. § 100.500.  It then articulates a burden shifting framework for such claims.  Id. § 100.500(c)(1)-(3).
Read more…

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Special Alert: CFPB Finalizes Points-and-Fees Cure and Other Mortgage Rule Amendments

Last week, the CFPB finalized an important amendment to its ATR/QM Rule that provides a mechanism for curing points-and-fees overages on qualified mortgage (“QM”) loans, as well as more minor amendments to its mortgage origination and servicing rules.  The new rules, which were proposed in April, are detailed below.  The discussion below regarding the new origination rules, including the points-and-fees cure, will also appear with the American Bankers Association/BuckleySandler publication, The New CFPB Mortgage Origination Rules Deskbook.  (Click here for information about obtaining copies of the Deskbook.)

Click here to view the full special alert.

Questions regarding the matters discussed in this Alert may be directed to any of our lawyers listed below, or to any other BuckleySandler attorney with whom you have consulted in the past.

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Special Alert: Lessons Learned from Arab Bank’s U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act Verdict

On September 22, 2014, following a two-month trial, a federal jury in the Eastern District of New York ruled in favor of a group of 297 individual plaintiffs in a civil suit accusing Arab Bank PLC, headquartered in Amman, Jordan, of supporting terrorism. Linde vs. Arab Bank PLC, No. 1:04-CV-2799 (E.D.N.Y. filed July 2, 2004).

In summary, the plaintiffs alleged that Arab Bank was liable under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2331, et seq. (the “ATA”), for the deaths and/or severe injuries resulting from acts in international terrorism that occurred between 2001 and 2004, because the bank had processed and facilitated payments for Hamas and other terrorist or terrorist-related organizations, their members, the families of suicide bombers, or Hamas front organizations.

What this means for financial institutions, particularly foreign banks that increasingly face the potential reach of U.S. laws and plaintiffs, remains to be seen. But there are three take-aways worthy of immediate consideration.

Click here to view the full special alert.

 

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Special Alert: Class Action Suit Filed Based on CFPB Consent Order

In what may be the first action of its kind, a consumer who received restitution under the CFPB consent order has filed a class action lawsuit based on the same alleged violations.  While this litigation is still in its early stages, it serves as an important reminder that an institution’s exposure does not end when it reaches a public settlement with a regulator and may, in fact, increase.

Settlement of CFPB Action

As previously discussed in a BuckleySandler webinar, on July 24, 2013, the CFPB filed suit against Castle & Cooke Mortgage LLC, its President, and its Senior Vice President of Capital Markets, alleging that the defendants “developed and implemented a scheme by which the Company would pay quarterly bonuses to loan officers in amounts that varied based on the interest rates of the loans they originated” in violation of the Truth in Lending Act’s loan originator compensation rules.

On November 7, 2013, the defendants entered into a consent order with the CFPB, agreeing to pay $9.2 million for restitution and a $4 million civil penalty to resolve the allegations.  Consistent with current CFPB practice, the consent order stated that “[r]edress provided by the Company shall not limit consumers’ rights in any way” – in other words, affected consumers are not required to sign releases in order to receive remediation. Read more…

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Special Alert: Proposed Amendments to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (“TRID”) Rule, Transcript of CFPB Webinar on the Loan Estimate Form, and Introducing BuckleySandler’s TRID Resource Center

BuckleySandler is pleased to announce our new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (“TRID”) Resource Center.  The TRID Resource Center is a one-stop shop for TRID issues, providing access to BuckleySandler’s analysis of the TRID rule and the CFPB’s amendments, transcripts of CFPB webinars providing guidance on the rule, and other CFPB publications that will facilitate implementation of the rule.  In particular, the TRID Resource Center will address the following recent developments:

  • Proposed amendments. On October 10, 2014, the CFPB proposed amendments to the TRID rule that, if adopted, would: (1) allow creditors to provide a revised Loan Estimate on the business day after the date the interest rate is locked, instead of the current requirement to provide the revised Loan Estimate on the date the rate is locked; and (2) correct an oversight by creating room on the Loan Estimate form for the disclosure that must be provided on the initial Loan Estimate as a condition of issuing a revised estimate for construction loans where the creditor reasonably expects settlement to occur more than 60 days after the initial estimate is provided.  The proposal would also make a number of additional amendments, clarifications, and corrections, including:
    • Add the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure to the list of loan documents that must disclose the name and NMLSR ID number of the loan originator organization and individual loan originator under 12 C.F.R. § 1026.36(g);
    • Provide additional guidance related to the disclosure of escrow accounts, such as when an escrow account is established but escrow payments are not required with a particular periodic payment or range of payments; and
    • Clarify that, consistent with the requirement for the Loan Estimate, the addresses for all properties securing the loan must be provided on the Closing Disclosure, although an addendum may be used for this purpose.

    Comments on the proposal are due by November 10, 2014. For your convenience, we have updated our summary of the TRID rule to identify the most significant proposed changes.

Read more…

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Special Alert: FinCEN Publishes Long-Awaited Proposed Customer Due Diligence Requirements

On August 4, 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that would amend existing Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) regulations intended to clarify and strengthen customer due diligence (“CDD”) obligations for banks, securities broker-dealers, mutual funds, and futures commission merchants and introducing brokers in commodities (collectively, “covered financial institutions”).

In drafting the modifications, FinCEN clearly took into consideration comments responding to its February 2012 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”), as the current proposal appears narrower and somewhat less burdensome on financial institutions. Comments on the proposed rulemaking are due October 3, 2014.

Overview: Under the NPRM, covered financial institutions would be obligated to collect information on the natural persons behind legal entity customers (beneficial owners) and the proposed rule would make CDD an explicit requirement. If adopted the NPRM would amend FinCEN’s AML program rule (the four pillars) by making CDD a fifth pillar.

Click here to view the special alert.

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Special Alert: CFPB Bulletin Re-Emphasizes Focus on Mortgage Servicing Transfers

On August 19, 2014, the CFPB issued Bulletin 2014-01 to address “potential risks to consumers that may arise in connection with transfers of residential mortgage servicing rights.”  The bulletin, which is the latest in a series of CFPB regulations, statements, and guidance on this subject, replaces the Bureau’s February 2013 bulletin on mortgage servicing transfers and states that “the Bureau’s concern in this area remains heightened due to the continuing high volume of servicing transfers.”  It further states that “the CFPB will be carefully reviewing servicers’ compliance with Federal consumer financial laws applicable to servicing transfers” and “may engage in further rulemaking in this area.”

The bulletin contains the following information, which is summarized in great detail below:

  • Examples of policies and procedures that CFPB examiners may consider in evaluating whether the servicers on both ends of a transfer have complied with the CFPB’s new regulations requiring, among other things, policies and procedures reasonably designed to facilitate the transfer of information during servicing transfers and to properly evaluate loss mitigation applications.
  • Guidance regarding the application of other aspects of the new servicing requirements to transfers.
  • Descriptions of other Federal consumer financial laws that apply to servicing transfers, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and the prohibition on unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts or practices (“UDAAPs”).
  • A statement that “[s]ervicers engaged in significant servicing transfers should expect that the CFPB will, in appropriate cases, require them to prepare and submit informational plans describing how they will be managing the related risks to consumers.”  This largely reiterates the Bureau’s statements in its February 2013 bulletin.

In a press release accompanying the bulletin, CFPB Director Richard Cordray stated that: “At every step of the process to transfer the servicing of mortgage loans, the two companies involved must put in appropriate efforts to ensure no harm to consumers. This means ahead of the transfer, during the transfer, and after the transfer.  We will not tolerate consumers getting the runaround when mortgage servicers transfer loans.

Click here to view the special alert.

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CFPB Announces Two Actions Related To Virtual Currencies

On August 11, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the CFPB or Bureau) issued a “consumer advisory” concerning virtual currency and also announced that it would begin accepting consumer complaints about virtual currency or virtual currency companies. These actions are the consumer agency’s first foray into virtual currencies, and they follow a recent GAO report that recommended the CFPB play a larger role in the development of federal virtual currency policy. Read more…

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New York Virtual Currency Proposal Could Capture Bank Products, Card Rewards Programs

On July 17, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) proposed a rule intended to govern the virtual currency marketplace. The proposed rule is extremely broad and as currently drafted would appear to capture products provided by traditional brick and mortar banks and other regulated financial institutions. For example, as proposed, the rule could regulate:

  • Reward programs, “thank you” offers, or digital coupons that offer cash back or statement credits;
  • Generated numbers that access cash;
  • Prepaid access and other cards that will allow customers to receive cash, including those customarily exempt such as government funded transfers;
  • P2P transfers; and
  • Wallet providers where the customer can access cash.

If left unaddressed, these apparent unintended consequences could create a confusing regulatory environment for certain bank and card products. It is also noteworthy that the rule does not provide any customary exclusions for chartered entities, raising substantial preemption questions. Read more…

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Special Alert: CFPB Proposes Significant Expansion Of HMDA Reporting Requirements

On July 24, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the CFPB or Bureau) issued a proposed rule that would expand the scope of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data reporting requirements and streamline certain existing reporting requirements. Although some of the new data points the Bureau is proposing to collect were expressly mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Bureau also proposed a significant number of new data points based on discretionary rulemaking authority granted by the Act.

While we describe the proposal below in greater detail, highlights include:

  • The proposal would substantially expand the number of data points collected from financial institutions, including requiring reporting of rate spreads on all loans, not just high cost loans. At least initially, however, this additional information would not be provided to the public on the Loan Application Register (LAR). Instead, the proposal states that the Bureau is still examining privacy concerns related to this information.
  • The proposal would require financial institutions to report home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), reverse mortgages, and commercial loans secured by a dwelling.
  • The proposal does not provide clarification on the definition of an “application” or the “broker rule.”

Those wishing to comment on the proposal must do so by October 22, 2014. Click here to view the special alert.

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Special Alert: CFPB Issues Guidance On Supervision And Enforcement Of Mini-Correspondent Lenders

This afternoon, the CFPB issued policy guidance on supervision and enforcement considerations relevant to mortgage brokers transitioning to mini-correspondent lenders. The CFPB states that it “has become aware of increased mortgage industry interest in the transition of mortgage brokers from their traditional roles to mini-correspondent lender roles,” and is “concerned that some mortgage brokers may be shifting to the mini-correspondent model in the belief that, by identifying themselves as mini-correspondent lenders, they automatically alter the application of important consumer protections that apply to transactions involving mortgage brokers.”

The guidance describes how the CFPB evaluates mortgage transactions involving mini-correspondent lenders and confirms who must comply with the broker compensation rules, regardless of how they may describe their business structure. In announcing the guidance, CFPB Director Richard Cordray stated that the CFPB is “putting companies on notice that they cannot avoid those rules by calling themselves by a different name.”

The CFPB is not offering an opportunity for the public to comment on the guidance. The CFPB determined that because the guidance is a non-binding policy document articulating considerations relevant to the CFPB’s exercise of existing supervisory and enforcement authority, it is exempt from the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. Read more…

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Special Alert: CFPB Guidance States That Successors Are Not Subject to the ATR/QM Rule

On July 8, the CFPB issued an interpretive rule stating that the addition of a successor as an obligor on a mortgage does not trigger the Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule (ATR/QM Rule) requirements if the successor previously received an interest in the property securing the mortgage by operation of law, such as through inheritance or divorce.  Creditors may rely on the interpretive rule as a safe harbor under section 130(f) of TILA.

In adopting the interpretations described below, it appears that the CFPB primarily intended to respond to inquiries from the industry and consumer advocates about situations where one family member inherits a home from another and, in order to keep the home, requests to be added to the mortgage and to modify its terms, such as by reducing the rate or payments.

Click here to view the special alert.

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Questions regarding the matters discussed in the Alert may be directed to any of our lawyers listed below, or to any other BuckleySandler attorney with whom you have consulted in the past.

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BuckleySandler Achieves Landmark Settlement in Navajo Nation Breach of Trust Lawsuit Against United States

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2014)BuckleySandler LLP is proud to announce that it has obtained a $554 million settlement on behalf of its client the Navajo Nation. The settlement resolves the Nation’s landmark lawsuit alleging that the U.S. had breached its historical fiduciary obligations by failing to manage, invest and account for tribal trust funds and resources under the custody and control of the U.S. in a manner that would maximize the financial return from those assets.  This is the largest settlement obtained in any action by a single Tribe against the U.S. and exceeds, by more than $170 million, the largest single resolution in the more than 100 natural resource breach of trust cases filed against the U.S. by American Indian Tribes. Read more…

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Special Alert: VA Adopts Its QM Rule

On May 9, 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued an interim final rule defining what constitutes a “qualified mortgage” (QM) for purposes of the loans it guarantees, insures, or originates. The VA stated that, to quell persistent uncertainty among lenders regarding the treatment of VA loans under the temporary QM definition established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it was adopting a rule designating all VA loans as QMs and all VA loans other than a subset of VA streamlined refinancings as safe harbor QMs.

Click here to view our special alert.

Questions regarding the matters discussed in the Alert may be directed to any of our lawyers listed below, or to any other BuckleySandler attorney with whom you have consulted in the past.

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