On January 20, the Federal Reserve (Fed) released a much-anticipated discussion paper examining the pros and cons of a potential U.S. central bank digital currency (“CBDC”). To fully evaluate a potential CBDC, the Fed asks for public comment on more than 20 questions. Comments will be accepted for 120 days and can be submitted here.

Continue Reading Federal Reserve Examines Pros and Cons of a Central Bank Digital Currency

On January 13, the FTC announced that a leading business credit report provider agreed to settle allegations that it had engaged in deceptive and unfair business practices.  The FTC alleged that businesses complained of costly errors in the credit reports, which the company failed to remedy.  Additionally, the company’s suite of credit-improving products costing business hundreds or thousands of dollars per year failed to provide any real benefit to businesses.  Also, the company’s telemarketers deceptively pitched another service to businesses and falsely claimed that the businesses had to purchase the service for the company to complete the business’s credit profile.  Finally, the company allegedly did not disclose to businesses that the service’s subscription is automatically renewed each year, nor did it properly disclose other renewal practices that led to increasing costs.

Continue Reading FTC: Provider of Business Credit Reports Engaged in Deceptive and Unfair Practices, Refunds Customers

On January 7, the FTC announced that a California-based lead generator agreed to settle with the FTC for $1.5 million to resolve allegations that through a number of its subsidiaries, the company induced consumers into sharing their personal financial information and then sold that information from these loan applications as “leads” to a variety of entities without regard to whether these entities are lenders or use the consumers’ data to make loans.

Continue Reading Lead Generator Settles with FTC Over Alleged FCRA and FTC Act Violations

On January 5, the CFPB released its Annual Report of Credit and Consumer Reporting Complaints that analyzes complaint responses by the three major consumer reporting agencies (CRAs).  The CFPB’s analysis reveals that recent changes in complaint responses provided by the CRAs resulted in fewer meaningful responses and with fewer instances of relief to consumers.  As a result, the CFPB concludes that the CRAs failed to meet their obligations under Section 611 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires that CRAs review consumer allegations of incomplete or inaccurate information on consumer credit reports, including allegations made by an authorized third-party representative of the consumer.

Continue Reading CFPB Report: Major Credit Bureaus Failed to Meet Statutory Obligations in Response to Consumer Complaints

On January 5, the FTC announced that two defendants will be permanently banned from the merchant cash advance and debt collection industries, and required to pay $675,000 to resolve allegations that they used deceptive and illegal means to seize assets from small businesses, non-profits, and religious organizations.  The order results from a 2020 complaint against two New York-based companies engaged in small-business financing, along with several of their owners and officers.

Continue Reading FTC Bans Merchant Cash Advance Provider from Industry

On December 16, 2021, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued civil monetary penalties against a Texas community bank for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”).  The consent orders read like a veritable “how not to” for reviewing anti-money laundering alerts.

Continue Reading OCC and FinCEN Issue $9 Million in Penalties for BSA-AML Violations

On December 16, the CFPB issued a series of orders to five companies offering “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) credit.  The orders seek to collect information on the risks and benefits of these “fast-growing” products over concerns about “accumulating debt, regulatory arbitrage, and data harvesting in a consumer credit market already quickly changing with technology.”  BNPL is a deferred payment option that allows consumers to split a purchase into smaller installments, typically four or less, often with a down payment of 25 percent due at checkout.  To underscore BNPL’s current popularity, a report issued by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation recently reported that “[t]he top six buy now pay later lenders accounted for 10,924,547, or 91 percent, of the total consumer loans originated in 2020” (we discussed this report in an earlier Consumer Finance & FinTech Blog post here).

Continue Reading CFPB Issues Orders to Companies Offering BNPL Credit

The CFPB has amended Regulation Z to address the anticipated sunset of LIBOR, which is expected to be discontinued in June 2023.  Some creditors currently use LIBOR as an index for calculating rates for open-end and closed-end products.  The effective date of this final rule is April 1, 2022.


Continue Reading CFPB Published Reg. Z Amendments to Facilitate Libor Transition

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has enhanced its regulatory scrutiny of the fees financial institutions assess on consumer depositors.  To better understand the gamut of such fees and financial institutions’ practices with respect to the same, the CFPB has required financial institutions to submit detailed quarterly statements identifying and breaking out the various types of fees assessed on consumer accounts.  In particular, the CFPB has required them to provide aggregate amounts charged as (i) overdraft and non-sufficient funds (“NSF”) fees; (ii) periodic account maintenance fees; and (iii) ATM fees (in particular, the fees charged in connection with consumer transactions at out-of-network ATMs).  The CFPB has now analyzed the consumer fee data going back to 2015 and published two reports: (i) Data Point: Overdraft/NSF Fee Reliance Since 2015—Evidence from Bank Call Reports; and (ii) Data Point: Checking Account Overdraft at Financial Institutions Served by Core Processors.  In general, the reports reveal that overdraft and NSF fees constitute one of the primary sources of financial institution revenues generated from consumer banking operations.  Indeed, overdraft fees alone generated more than $15 billion in revenues for banks and credit unions in 2019.

Continue Reading The CFPB Study Shines Spotlight on Banking Fees as a Presage to Greater Regulatory Scrutiny of Consumer Banking Fees

On November 18, the Chief Counsel of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a fourth interpretive letter (Letter 1179) regarding whether it is permissible for national banks and federal savings associations to engage in certain cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, and stablecoin activities.  The letter clarifies ambiguities in the previous three letter including  the authority of a bank to engage in certain cryptocurrency activities and the authority of the OCC to charter a national trust bank.

Continue Reading OCC Chief Counsel Clarifies Bank Authority to Engage in Crypto

On November 23, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“banking agencies”) released a joint statement recognizing that the emerging crypto-asset sector presents potential opportunities and risks for banking organizations, their customers, and the overall financial system.

Continue Reading Banking Agencies Provide Crypto-Asset Roadmap as a Result of Interagency “Policy Sprints”