The CFPB recently announced that its two final debt collection rules implementing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) will take effect as planned on November 30.  The CFPB had previously proposed extending the final rules’ effective date by 60 days to allow for additional comments and time for implementation for those affected by COVID-19 (a recent Sheppard Mullin article discussing the COVID-related impact on debt collection was recently covered here).  Based on industry feedback, however, the Bureau determined that an extension is unnecessary, explaining that while “consumer advocate commenters generally supported extending the effective date, they did not focus on whether additional time is needed to implement the rules.”

Continue Reading CFPB Confirms November 30 Effective Date for Debt Collection Final Rules

On August 5, California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced that it entered into a consent order with a New York-based FinTech company that offers student Income Share Agreements (ISAs) to finance post-secondary education and training.  According to the DFPI, it is the first agreement to subject an ISA provider to state licensing and regulation.  The agreement reflects the DFPI’s decision to treat these private financing products as student loans for the purpose of the California Student Loan Servicing Act (SLSA).  Below are significant highlights from the agreement:

  • The DFPI found that the SLSA defines “student loans” broadly to include “any loan” or “extension of credit” and does not exclude contingent debt.
  • Under the ISAs, students agree to repay a school a fixed percentage of their future gross income after graduation, but only if the student is employed and making more than an agreed-upon amount.
  • The settlement provides that the DFPI will issue the company a conditional license under the SLSA based on its finding that ISAs are “student loans” for the purposes of the SLSA.


Continue Reading California Regulator Signals New Scrutiny of Student Lending Industry, Enters Into Consent Order with Servicer of Income Share Agreements

Maine’s Governor, Janet Mills, recently signed S.P. 205/L.D. 522, which amended the Consumer Credit Code to protect consumers from predatory and fraudulent lending practices.  In particular, the amendments include an anti-evasion provision under which purported bank agents or service providers are deemed “lenders” for the purposes of statute.  The amendment contains the following key provisions:

  • Covered entities “may not engage in any device, subterfuge or pretense to evade the requirements of this Article, including, but not limited to…making, offering, assisting, or arranging a debtor to obtain a loan with a greater rate of interest, consideration or charge than is permitted by this Article through any method.”
  • Loans that violate these provisions are “void and uncollectible as to any principal, fee, interest or charge.”
  • A person qualifies as a lender if it:
    • holds, acquires or maintains, directly or indirectly, the predominant economic interest in the loan;
    • markets, brokers, arranges or facilitates the loan and holds the right, requirement or first right of refusal to purchase the loan or a receivable or interest in the loan; or
    • the totality of the circumstances indicate that the person is the lender and the transaction is structured to evade the requirements of this Article.
  • The circumstances that would weigh in favor of an entity being deemed the lender include, without limitation, when the entity:
    • indemnifies, insures or protects an exempt entity for any costs or risks related to the loan
    • predominately designs, controls or operates the loan program, or
    • purports to act as an agent or service provider for an exempt entity while acting directly as a lender in other states.
  • Lenders who violate these provisions may not furnish information concerning a debt associated with the violation to a consumer reporting agency, nor may it refer the associated debt to a debt collector.


Continue Reading Maine Enacts “True Lender” Legislation, Amends Consumer Credit Code to Include Anti-Evasion Provisions

When President Biden signed the bill on June 17 which made Juneteenth (June 19) a federal legal holiday immediately, it impacted certain Regulation Z timing requirements related to rescission of closed-end mortgage loans and the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID), particularly with respect to transactions that either (i) closed on or before June 17, 2021 but for which consumers’ rescission periods had not yet expired or (ii) were close to the planned closing date on June 17, 2021 and subject to certain disclosure timing requirements of the TRID provisions.  Since the CFPB did not publish immediate guidance, mortgage lenders were forced to make educated guesses as to how to treat Friday, June 18 and Saturday, June 19, particularly with respect to measurement periods that had already commenced before or on the date the new law became effective.  On August 5 the CFPB published an interpretive rule on how to deal with these issues, and the Bureau consistently reached a result which permitted mortgage lenders to treat June 19 as either a business day or a federal holiday for the purposes of these provisions, as set forth immediately below in more detail.

Continue Reading CFPB Reaches Correct Resolution On Juneteenth Disclosure Issues

On July 13, the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC proposed risk management guidance to help banking organizations manage risks related to third-party relationships, including relationships with vendors, FinTech companies, affiliates, and the banking organizations’ holding companies.  The proposal is based on existing but disparate third-party risk management guidance from the three prudential regulators, and is intended to promote consistency across the banking agencies.  If finalized, it will replace the guidance that each agency has released independently.

Continue Reading Federal Agencies Request Comments on Risk Management Guidance for Third-Party Relationships

On July 12, the CFPB issued a consent order against a FinTech company for facilitating point of sale financing activities without authorization from consumers.  The consent order requires the company to pay up to approximately $9 million in redress to impacted consumers and a $2.5 million civil money penalty.

Continue Reading CFPB Takes Action Against FinTech Company for Originating Unauthorized Loans

On July 1, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released a Policy Statement on its commitment to comprehensive fair lending oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks (collectively, “regulated entities”).  The FHFA addressed its position on:  (i) monitoring and information gathering; (ii) supervisory examinations; and (iii) administrative enforcement related to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act.  The FHFA added that the statement operates as a “foundation for future interpretations by the agency and its regulated entities.”  Comments on the policy statement are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Continue Reading FHFA Releases Policy Statement On Fair Lending

On July 6, the CFPB posted a blog titled, “Should you buy now and pay later?” describing how buy now pay later (BNPL) deferred payment options work, and the benefits and risks that come with BNPL.  Generally, if a consumer selects the BNPL option at an online checkout, “the purchase is . . . split into a payment schedule – typically four fixed payments made bi-weekly or monthly until the balance is paid in full.”  The CFPB points out that transaction approval takes minutes, with no interest, finance charges, or hard credit inquiries.

Continue Reading CFPB Blogs About Buy Now Pay Later

At the recent FDIC conference, “Fintech: A Bridge to Economic Inclusion,” FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams remarked that while the proportion of U.S. households that were banked in 2019 was 94.6 percent, 7 million households still reported no banking relationship.  She also noted that “the rates for Black and Hispanic households who do not have a checking or savings account at a bank remain substantially higher than the overall ‘unbanked’ rate.”  Referencing her personal challenges in establishing credit as a young immigrant to the United States 30 years ago, McWilliams discussed technology’s role in creating and facilitating a more inclusive financial system through the FDIC’s multi-pronged, novel approach to tackle the issue of financial inclusion, which includes:

Continue Reading FDIC Chairman Discusses FinTech and Bank Innovation

On June 29, the CFPB and the Georgia Attorney General’s Office settled with a debt-relief and credit-repair company and its owners for allegedly deceiving consumers into hiring the company to lower or eliminate credit-card debts and improve consumers’ credit scores.  The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs’ use of telemarketing and direct mail violated the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Consumer Financial Protection Act, and Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act by, among other things, falsely claiming that:

Continue Reading CFPB and Georgia AG Settle With Debt-Relief Company