On December 19, the CFPB announced it had filed enforcement actions (3:16cv987, 3:16cv988, 1:16cv1566, 1: 16cv1567) in federal district court against four Virginia pawnbrokers for misleading customers through deceptively low annual percentage rates that intentionally omit or hide certain fees and charges. In each Complaint, the Bureau alleges both TILA violations and unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices under Dodd-Frank and the CPA. The complaints seek injunctive relief ordering the pawnbrokers to stop the allegedly illegal practices, restitution for consumers, and statutory penalties.
On December 23, the CFPB announced that it is amending the official commentary interpreting Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) to reflect a change in the asset size exemption thresholds required to establish an escrow account for higher-priced mortgages under Reg. Z. Under the amended commentary, the exemption threshold is adjusted to increase to $2.069 billion from $2.052 billion.
In a letter sent to CFPB Director Richard Cordray on December 1, a group of Republican members of Congress expressed concern about the Bureau’s proposal regarding payday, vehicle title, and certain high-cost installment loans. The letter observes that CFPB’s proposal “attempts to further regulate an industry that is already highly regulated by nearly a dozen federal laws including the Truth in Lending Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.” Specifically, the letter contends that the CFPB’s framework will effectively preempt existing statutory and regulatory frameworks and/or eliminate regulated small dollar credit products from the market, thereby leaving consumers without access to credit or forcing them to seek “riskier, illegal” forms of credit.
On November 3, the CFPB filed a lawsuit in federal district court against a Virginia pawnbroker for deceiving consumers about the actual annual cost of its loans. In its Complaint, the CFPB alleges both TILA violations and unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices under Dodd-Frank and the CPA. The complaint seeks monetary relief, injunctive relief, and penalties. The CFPB coordinated its investigation with the Virginia Attorney General’s office – which filed its own lawsuit against the same pawnbrokers back in July 2015 for violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
On October 18, the American Banking Association (ABA) and Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) submitted a joint comment letter responding to a recent proposal by the CFPB seeking to codify informal guidance and clarifications to the Know Before Your Owe TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule. Of particular concern among lenders and investors was the lack of clarity about liability for unintentional mistakes and technical noncompliance with TRID. To help address these concerns, the Associations urged the CFPB to, among other things, (i) publish the specific statutory provisions it relied upon for each disclosure item or requirement identified in the recent proposal; (ii) grant a “safe harbor” for model forms issued by the bureau; (iii) grant an extension of the “good faith” compliance examination policy pending the CFPB’s proscribed deadlines for the proposed rules; and (iv) develop a formal process to address ongoing compliance and legal issues related to TRID.
The Associations also expressed appreciation for “the numerous amendments offered in th[e] proposal,” including those allowing corrected closing disclosures to reset applicable good faith tolerances for creditors. The Associations further explained that their “preliminary analysis reflects that this proposed rule will resolve multiple ambiguities that banks deem significant” and “urged that the bureau . . . allow for the correction of previous non-compliance caused by the interpretive ambiguity that the bureau is now fixing” (emphasis added).