On Monday, November 18, 2019, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (“OCC”) announced that it is seeking public comment on a proposed rule to clarify the “valid when made” doctrine in the wake of a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Madden v. Midland Funding, that undermined and largely rejected it. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) can be found here. This rulemaking could restore certainty regarding the legality and enforceability of loans that comprise a significant component of lending activity.

The “valid when made” doctrine is a longstanding rule that a loan’s interest rate remains legal and enforceable as long as it was legal when the loan was made, regardless of whether a third party ultimately ends up holding the loan. In Madden, the Second Circuit undermined, and largely rejected, the doctrine and thus called into question the legality and enforceability of a large swath of the consumer debt. The loans challenged in Madden were originated by banks and subsequently sold, assigned, or otherwise transferred to non-bank entities. 
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2018 has a tough act to follow, after a 2017 full of momentous developments—starting with a new Administration and wrapping up with a showdown over the right to serve as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (a fight that continues as of this writing, as discussed below).

But 2018 is unlikely to be a quiet year. In addition to developments in the CFPB leadership battle and other litigation, the year is expected to bring developments such as effective and compliance dates for major regulations on data protection, Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money-laundering (BSA/AML), mortgage servicing, and other topics, and could bring changes in supervisory focus at multiple federal agencies. 
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This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)’s long-awaited beneficial ownership rule, which imposes certain Customer Identification Program (CIP) requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). FinCEN proposed the rule in 2014 and finalized it in May 2016. FinCEN has also issued Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Customer Due Diligence Requirements for Financial Institutions, which provides guidance in understanding and implementing the new rule. All financial institutions subject to the rule must begin complying with it no later than May 11, 2018.

The rule will impose new compliance obligations on federally regulated banks, federally insured credit unions, mutual funds, brokers or dealers in securities, futures commission merchants, and introducing brokers in commodities.
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The future of the CFPB is one of the hottest hot topics in the post-election environment. Created by Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA), the CFPB has been the centerpiece of consumer-related financial reform — and the focus of controversy from industry stakeholders.

Fate of CFPB and Its Leadership

  • Will the CFPB be immediately disbanded by the new Congress and President?


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The CFPB is warning financial services companies to carefully evaluate their employee incentive programs. Specifically, companies should scrutinize bonus structures that tether compensation and employment status to unrealistic sales goals. Such bonus structures, the CFPB cautions, “may intentionally or unintentionally encourage illegal practices such as unauthorized account openings, unauthorized opt-ins to overdraft services, deceptive sales tactics, and steering consumers into less favorable products.”

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The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) recently published an Advisory to Financial Institutions on Cyber-Events and Cyber-Enabled Crime. The Advisory does not change or create any new regulatory obligations, but it does clarify how existing Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) regulations for reporting cyber-events and cyber-enabled crimes apply to financial institutions. Specifically, the Advisory provides additional guidance for reporting cyber-enabled crime and cyber-enabled events through Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”), including cyber-related information in SARs; collaborating between BSA units and in-house cybersecurity units to identify suspicious activity; and sharing cyber-related information among financial institutions to prevent and report money laundering, terrorism financing, and cyber-enabled crimes.
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Last week, Dykema’s Consumer Financial Services Law Blog discussed in detail the Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016). In anticipation of that decision, district courts across the country issued stays pending guidance from the Supreme Court on one key issue: “Whether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute.”

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The United States Supreme Court held earlier this year in Spokeo v. Robins that to maintain Article III standing, a plaintiff must allege an injury-in-fact that was both concrete and particularized. Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540, 1542 (2016). This requirement of requiring an injury to actually exist has the potential to eliminate spurious suits from plaintiffs based on alleged federal statutory violations, including particularly alleged violations of federal statutes related to consumer financial services.

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Last month, the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of a putative class action alleging that debt collector defendants used misleading language in their state court collection complaints in violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In so ruling, the Seventh Circuit joined the numerous other circuits that have already addressed the issue in concluding that “pleadings or filings in court can fall within the FDCPA.”

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