Financial Services Regulatory

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s Office of Regulations has long offered the public the opportunity to ask the agency questions about specific regulatory provisions and receive informal feedback from CFPB attorneys, although the path for doing so was not always clear. Now, the CFPB is offering a new web interface to use for submitting such questions. Those wanting to send questions to the CFPB should bookmark the page for the new web form. Continue Reading New CFPB Online Inquiry Form Offers New Way to Ask Regulatory Questions

Last week, the Federal Reserve issued proposed guidance that could dial back some regulatory expectations for directors of financial institutions. The proposed guidance, applicable to Fed-supervised entities like bank holding companies and state member banks, would clarify the role of boards of directors, and place more responsibilities back onto management instead. This breaks with a trend over the past several years in which regulators have urged more and more active and seemingly granular involvement from bank boards. Continue Reading Outside Bank Directors Take Note: Could Regulators’ Expectations Be Changing (Again)?

Every other year, the Texas Legislature convenes for roughly six months in Austin. Given the tight timeframe and biennial nature, sessions of the Texas Legislature tend to be “fast and furious” (and also full of drama). There were a total of 6,631 bills filed in the 2017 Texas Legislative Session. The Texas House filed 4,333 bills, of which 700 passed. The Texas Senate filed 2,298, of which 511 passed. Texas Governor Abbott vetoed 50 bills prior to the June 18, 2017, veto deadline. Below are summaries and effective dates of the major new laws that affect financial institutions operating in Texas. Continue Reading 2017 Texas Legislative Recap of New Laws Affecting Financial Institutions Operating in Texas

On June 15, 2017, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) published in the Federal Register final amendments to Regulation CC (Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks). The amendments contain a number of changes that will affect financial institutions, such as modifications to check return requirements, additional warranties, and new indemnities, including a new indemnity for remote deposit capture (RDC). (Spoiler Alert: The indemnity for RDC has significant implications for financial institutions that offer RDC services.) The rule will become effective July 1, 2018.

Regulation CC implements the Expedited Funds Availability Act (EFAA) and the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21 Act). The FRB previously published a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend Regulation CC in February 2014. Continue Reading Amendments to Regulation CC Affect Liability Considerations for Financial Institutions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed Friday to temporarily relax the scope of upcoming changes to Regulation C, which implements the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), by raising one threshold for HMDA reporting. Under Regulation C amendments previously finalized and scheduled to take effect in 2018, HMDA reporting requirements would apply to any financial institution originating 100 or more open-end home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) per year over the prior two years. Under the new proposal, the HMDA reporting requirements would apply through calendar year 2019 to institutions that originated 500 or more HELOCs per year over the prior two years. In the meantime, the CFPB would conduct further studies to help determine whether to permanently change this threshold. Continue Reading CFPB Offers Smaller HELOC Lenders Temporary Relief from HMDA Coverage; HMDA Changes Still Loom In the Future

On July 10, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) dropped the other shoe and issued final rules prohibiting “providers of consumer financial products and services in the core consumer financial markets of lending money, storing money, and moving or exchanging money” from “using a pre-dispute arbitration agreement to block consumer class actions in court.” The final rules also require covered providers to insert language “reflecting this limitation” in contracts with pre-suit arbitration clauses. Completing the trifecta, the new rules require “providers that use pre-dispute arbitration agreements to submit certain records relating to arbitral and court proceedings to the Bureau,” which will use the information to monitor use of arbitration clauses regarding “whether there are developments that raise consumer protection concerns that may warrant further Bureau action.” The CFPB also intends to create a website providing “greater transparency into the arbitration of consumer disputes.” Continue Reading The Sound of Shoes Dropping: CFPB Moves to Bar Class Action Waivers

While the future of health care legislation has been dominating headlines, some quiet but important developments in Washington regarding the future of federal financial regulation have also been taking place. These developments do not significantly clarify the path forward; much of the uncertainty about which we have written here remains. But recent developments do signal issues to monitor in the near and longer term.

Nominations

The Trump Administration has announced nominations for two important federal bank regulatory posts. Continue Reading Federal Financial Reform: Where Does It Stand?

On June 12, 2017, the United States Supreme Court held that a buyer of defaulted consumer debt was not subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The question of whether such debt buyers fit within the FDCPA’s definition of “debt collector” has long been a subject of contention. While this result will not shield debt buyers entirely from the FDCPA’s purview, it does provide additional defenses against FDCPA liability and has broad potential implications for other consumer protection actions.

In Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, the petitioner had defaulted on a car loan owed to CitiFinancial Auto, which then sold the debt to Santander, which attempted to collect on the debt. The petitioner alleged that Santander’s collection methods violated the FDCPA. Continue Reading Debt Buyers Get Some FDCPA Relief from Supreme Court: Case Offers Insights But Leaves Some Questions Unanswered

On May 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the case of PHH vs. CFPB. The case, arising out of a CFPB enforcement action under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), also addresses the fundamental issue of whether the CFPB’s leadership structure is permissible under the Constitution.   

The en banc consideration of the case followed the opinion of a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit that found the Bureau’s structure unconstitutional because it features a single director who is not removable at will by the President. While other federal agencies are led by a single person—including a fellow financial regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)—the court dismissed the similarity in a footnote, distinguishing the OCC structure in noting that the authorizing statutory language is not identical.  Continue Reading En Banc Oral Argument in PHH vs. CFPB Case Continues the CFPB Saga, Pits Federal Government Against Itself

NetSpend Corporation (NetSpend) recently agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding allegations that NetSpend deceived consumers about certain aspects of NetSpend’s reloadable prepaid cards. NetSpend will pay $40 million in restitution to customers and $13 million to the FTC under the enforcement order. Providers of consumer financial products and services—not just prepaid card providers—should carefully review the FTC’s allegations. The allegations provide insights on practices the FTC perceives to be deceptive, and how to avoid engaging in them. Continue Reading Federal Trade Commission Action Against NetSpend Has Relevance Beyond the Prepaid Card Industry