FCC Denies Petition by MBA to Exempt Certain Mortgage Servicing Calls from Prior Express Consent Requirement

In an order dated November 15, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau denied a petition by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) that sought an exemption from the FCC’s prior express consent requirement for non-telemarketing residential mortgage servicing auto-dialer calls to wireless numbers. In its order, the Bureau concluded that MBA had failed to show (1) that the calls in question would be free of charge to consumers; and (2) that the parties seeking relief should be able to send non-time-sensitive calls to consumers without their consent.

Among other things, the Order explained that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) “reflects Congress’ recognition of the potential costs and privacy risks imposed on wireless consumers from the use of auto-dialer equipment, which can generate large numbers of unwanted calls” and accordingly, the FCC has generally attempted to balance and accommodate the legitimate business interests of callers in addition to recognized consumer privacy interests.

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PHH Response Due Date Pushed Back as Solicitor’s General Permitted to Respond to CFPB’s Petition in PHH Corp. v. CFPB by December 22

As discussed previously, the D.C. Circuit ordered PHH to respond to the CFPB’s petition for en banc review of the October 2016 three-judge panel decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB. In an Unopposed Motion for Leave to file the United States’ Response, filed December 1, the Office of the Solicitor General sought permission to file its own responsive briefing on or before December 22. In an Order issued December 1, the D.C. Circuit granted the Solicitor General’s request, but also moved back the due date for PHH’s responsive papers so that both responses are now due on December 22.

Earlier in the week, on November 30, two groups filed amicus briefs in support of the CFPB’s petition together along with motions requesting an invitation from the court. The first brief was submitted by a group of leading consumer protection organizations, while the second brief was filed by a group of 21 current and former members of Congress.

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White to Testify Before House Financial Services

SEC Chair Mary Jo White is scheduled to testify later this month at separate House Financial Services Committee hearings, a spokesman for the panel said.  White will appear before the committee on November 15 to answer questions regarding the SEC’s agenda, operations, and budget request. She will be the only witness.

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House Considers Further Narrowing FDIC Scope on Brokered Deposits

On September 27, the House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee heard testimony on HR 4116, a bill that would affect how the FDIC determines the amount of deposits at insured banks that qualify as “brokered deposits.” The Federal Deposit Insurance Act currently requires larger premiums for banks with higher ratios of brokered deposits as compared to traditional deposits. This bill would exclude reciprocal deposits from the definition of brokered deposits where the condition of the institution at its most recent examination was adjudged either good or outstanding, or where the total reciprocal deposits of the institution do not exceed either $10 billion or 20% of its total liabilities.  This narrowed scope of brokered deposits would come on the heels of the FDIC’s decision to exclude smaller community banks from including reciprocal deposits are brokered deposits announced earlier this year.

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Congress Seeks Answers from Bank CEO and Federal Bank Regulators

On September 20, the CEO of a major national bank faced questions from the House Financial Services Committee over consumer account practices uncovered during a recent enforcement action by the CFPB. The CEO will return to Capitol Hill on September 29 for additional testimony in front of the Committee. In addition, the Director of the CFPB and the Comptroller of the Currency faced scrutiny from the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs on their agencies awareness of, and failure to prohibit, the bank’s alleged actions for more than two years. In prepared testimony, Director Cordray indicated that the civil penalty levied against the bank was the “largest fine by far that the Consumer Bureau has imposed on any financial company to date” calling it a “dramatic amount as compared to the actual financial harm to consumers” but also “justified here by the outrageous and abusive nature of these fraudulent practices on such an enormous scale.” Director Cordray further stated that this enforcement action should help clarify how the CFPB will continue to analyze and enforce the prohibition on “abusive” practices under its mandate.  Meanwhile Comptroller Curry explained how this enforcement action demonstrates the complimentary roles played by the OCC and the CFPB in supervising bank practices.

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