On July 22, the CFPB, the Federal Reserve, and the OCC issued a joint proposal “detailing the method that will be used to make annual inflation adjustments to the threshold for exempting small loans from higher-priced mortgage loan appraisal requirements.” The Dodd-Frank Act amended TILA to establish special appraisal requirements for higher-priced mortgage loans (HPMLs). To implement these requirements, the OCC, NCUA, CFPB, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and FHFA issued final rules that became effective on January 18, 2014. The rules exempt transactions of $25,000 or less and require that the $25,000 threshold be adjusted annually to reflect any percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The recently-issued joint proposal would memorialize the calculation method for determining such adjustments and further clarify that, if there is no annual percentage increase in the CPI-W, the exemption threshold from the prior year will not be adjusted. Comments on the proposal are due within 30 days of publication in the Federal Register.
Federal Reserve and CFPB Propose Method for Adjusting TILA and Consumer Leasing Act Exemption Thresholds
On July 22, the CFPB and the Federal Reserve released proposed rules detailing the method for adjusting the dollar thresholds in Regulation Z (TILA) and Regulation M (Consumer Leasing Act/CLA) for exempt consumer credit and lease transactions. Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the exemption thresholds in TILA and the CLA are adjusted annually based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The recently released proposals seek to clarify, among other things, that in the years following a year in which there is no annual percentage increase in the CPI-W, the CFPB and Federal Reserve will not adjust the exemption thresholds. Comments on the proposals are due within 30 days of publication in the Federal Register.
On June 30, the CFPB released its twelfth edition of Supervisory Highlights providing supervisory observations from its examiners in the areas of auto origination, debt collection, mortgage origination, small-dollar lending, and fair lending. In the area of auto origination, examiners determined that one or more institutions engaged in deceptive advertising practices related to the benefits of gap coverage products and the effects of payment deferrals, and failed to implement adequate compliance management systems. In the area of debt collection, examiners found that debt sellers sold thousands of debts that were unsuitable for sale because: (i) the accounts were in bankruptcy; (ii) the debts were the product of fraud; or (iii) the accounts had been paid in full. CFPB examiners further observed violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), determining that at least one collector falsely represented to consumers that a down payment was necessary in order to establish a repayment arrangement, when no such down payment was required by the collectors’ policies and procedures. For mortgage origination, CFPB examiners focused on compliance with provisions of CFPB’s Title XIV rules, the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), as implemented by Regulation Z, and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), as implemented by Regulation X, disclosure provisions, and other applicable consumer financial laws. Read more…
On June 17, the CFPB announced that it adjusted dollar threshold amounts for provisions in Regulation Z, which implements TILA, under the CARD Act, HOEPA, and the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB is required to make adjustments based on the annual percentage change reflected in the Consumer Price Index effective June 1, 2016. For 2017, the minimum interest charge will remain $27 for the first late payment and the subsequent violation penalty safe harbor fee for 2016 was amended to $38 for the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017. The CFPB is increasing the combined points and fees trigger-threshold for compliance with HOEPA to $1,029, and the amount threshold for high-cost mortgages in 2017 will be $20,579. To satisfy the underwriting requirements under the ATR/QM rule, a covered transaction will not be considered a QM unless the combined points and fees do not exceed 3% of the total loan amount for a loan greater than or equal to $102,894; $3,087 for a loan amount greater than or equal to $61,737 but less than $102,894; 5% of the total loan amount for a loan greater than or equal to $20,579 but less than $61,737; $1,029 for a loan amount greater than or equal to $12,862 but less than $20,579; and 8% of the total loan amount for a loan amount less than $12,862. The final rule is effective January 1, 2017, except that the amendment to the subsequent violation penalty safe harbor fee amount of $38 for the remainder of 2016 takes effect upon Federal Register publication.
On June 6, the FTC announced that it submitted its 2015 Annual Financial Acts Enforcement Report to the CFPB. The report covers the FTC’s enforcement activities related to compliance with Regulation Z (TILA), Regulation M (Consumer Leasing Act or CLA), and Regulation E (Electronic Fund Transfer Act or EFTA), as well as the FTC’s related activities in rulemaking, research, policy development, and consumer/business education related to TILA. According to the report, the FTC’s enforcement efforts in 2015 concerning TILA involved mortgage-related credit and non-mortgage credit, including automobile purchases and financing, car title loans, payday lending, and consumer electronics financing. Regarding mortgage-related credit activity, the report highlights continued litigation involving mortgage assistance relief services/forensic audit scams: “[i]n these scams, mortgage assistance relief providers offer, for a substantial fee, to review or audit the mortgage documents of distressed homeowners to identify violations of TILA, Regulation Z, and other federal laws.” The report further noted that under Regulation M and as part of the FTC’s Operation Ruse Control sweep on the auto industry, the FTC issued five final administrative consent orders and one consent agreement for public comment. Finally, regarding the FTC’s enforcement activities related to compliance with the EFTA, the report states that four of the FTC’s seven cases involving the EFTA in 2015 arose in the context of “negative option” plans, where consumers agreed to a trial period in which they received certain goods or services for no additional charge or at a reduced price, but later incurred recurring charges due to failure to cancel before the trial period ended.