On January 30, a Tennessee-based community bank entered into a consent order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. following the agency’s allegations that the Bank engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices relating to its third-party risk management practices with its fintech partners. While the order does not list the FDIC’s concerns with the bank’s third-party partnerships, the order requires it to come up with a plan within 60 days to end its relationship with its “significant third-party fintech partners.” In addition, the bank must implement a program to evaluate and manage the risks associated with the fintechs it directly works with, and fintechs with whom its direct partners work. Continue Reading FDIC Issues Consent Order Against Tennessee Bank

On February 22, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed Jonathan Mayer as the Justice Department’s inaugural Chief Science and Technology Advisor and Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer. Mayer will sit in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy and lead the Department’s newly established Emerging Technologies Board which coordinates and governs AI and other emerging technologies across the Department. Mayer will also build a team of technical and policy experts in cybersecurity and AI. The Chief AI Officer position is a role required by President Biden’s Executive Order on AI. Mayer is an assistant professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University and served as the technology law and policy advisor to then-Senator Kamala Harris as well as the chief technologist to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. Continue Reading Justice Department Hire’s First Chief AI Officer

On February 21, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed against an auto finance company in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia alleging various violations of the Military Lending Act (“MLA”). The named plaintiff is a “Covered Borrower” under the MLA, which includes active-duty military servicemembers and their dependents.Continue Reading Auto Finance Company Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Targeting Military Families

On February 29, the CFPB issued a circular warning digital comparison-shopping websites and lead generators that practices that steer customers to certain financial products or services based on compensation received from companies that sell such financial products or services can be an abusive act or practice in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The Bureau’s guidance will have a major impact on comparison-shopping websites for mortgage, credit cards, and short-term installment lending, among others.Continue Reading The CFPB Takes Aim at Digital Comparison Shopping Websites and Lead Generators

On February 22, California Attorney General Rob Bonta sent letters to 197 state-charted banks and credit unions warning them that certain fees they charge may constitute “unfair” business practices under California’s Unfair Competition Law and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Act. Bonta encouraged the financial institutions to review their policies and procedures to ensure consumers were not being assessed these fees.Continue Reading California AG Warns State-Chartered Banks and Credit Unions on Fees

On February 15, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to a leading payment app seeking clarification of its reimbursement policy for victims of imposter scams. Calling its protocol for reporting fraud and scams “unnecessarily complicated,” the Senators asked the payment app to add more categories of scams for which users can be reimbursed, and to streamline its process for reporting fraud, scams, and unauthorized transactions. The Senators noted that the company’s policy did not make clear which types of scams would qualify for reimbursement or what steps consumers needed to take to exercise their rights under its policy. The Senator’s pressed the payment app to make public whether banks and credit unions are required to reimburse customers who are victims of qualifying imposter scams. The Senators asked for responses to their questions by March 13, 2024.Continue Reading Congress Continues to Pressure Payment Apps to Change their Fraud Policies

On February 16, the CFPB issued revised rules updating its internal supervisory appeals process for institutions seeking to appeal a compliance rating or an adverse material finding. The updated rules open up new avenues for financial institutions to challenge supervisory evaluations and reflect a significant evolution from its 2015 updatesContinue Reading CFPB’s Enhanced Supervisory Appeals Process: A Potentially Beneficial Shift for Financial Institutions

In a move to bridge significant data gaps identified through its February 2023 Auto Finance Data Pilot where it sent information requests to nine large auto lenders about their lending portfolios, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is requesting comments for the collection of additional auto financing data. As with its prior requests, the Bureau is issuing these orders under its market monitoring authority which allows it to “gather information from time to time regarding the organization, business conduct, markets, and activities of covered persons and service providers.” 12 U.S.C. C. § 5512(c)(1) & (4). Compliance with the requests is mandatory.Continue Reading CFPB Ramps Up Auto Finance Scrutiny: A Look at the New Data Collection Initiative

On January 11, 2024, an administrative law judge for the NLRB issued an opinion holding that the employment agreement used by a major mortgage lender for all of its approximately 6,000 employees violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The mortgage lender’s standard employment contract included provisions that: 1) restricted disclosure of confidential information; 2) governed the use and return of company property, information, and communications; and 3) required that certain disputes be resolved through arbitration. Many of these provisions are common in employment agreements between lenders and their employees. Nevertheless, the ALJ found that parts of these provisions violated the NLRA because they had a reasonable tendency to interfere with, restrain, or coerce an employee contemplating engaging in activity protected by the statute.Continue Reading NLRB Finds Common Provisions in Mortgage Lender Employment Contract Illegal