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Volume 25 - Number 18

September 1, 2014

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Servicing Transfers High on CFPB Examiners’ Radar in Guidance

The CFPB remains quite concerned about the risks consumers face from the sustained high volume of mortgage servicing transfers and issued new guidance that highlights what its examiners will pay keen attention to going forward. “The CFPB advises mortgage servicers that its examiners will be carefully reviewing servicers’ compliance with federal consumer financial laws applicable to servicing transfers,” the new guidance stated. These will include Regulation X under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Regulation Z under the Truth in Lending Act, Regulation V under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibitions on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices (UDAAPs). At the top of ...

Bureau Fines Auto Finance Co. $2.75M Over Inaccurate Info

The CFPB recently fined auto finance company First Investors Financial Services Group Inc. $2.75 million for allegedly failing to fix known flaws in a computer system that was providing inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies. The bureau also ordered the Houston-based company to fix its errors and change its business practices. The CFPB said its investigation found that First Investors furnished inaccurate information about its customers to credit reporting agencies for at least three years. “When First Investors discovered the problem in April 2011, it notified the vendor but did nothing more,” the CFPB said. “The company did not replace the system or take any steps to correct the inaccurate information it had supplied. “It continued for years to use ...

Debt-Settlement Firm Agrees to $7 Million Accord With CFPB

Global Client Solutions, a leading debt-settlement payment processor based in Tulsa, OK, agreed to pay over $6 million in relief to consumers, as well as a $1 million civil penalty, to resolve allegations by the CFPB that the firm helped other companies to collect tens of millions of dollars in illegal upfront fees from consumers. Final settlement is pending federal district court approval. The CFPB accused Global Client Solutions and its two principals, Robert Merrick and Michael Hendrix, of violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule by making it possible for debt-settlement companies to charge consumers illegal upfront fees. The rule prohibits debt-settlement companies from charging consumers advance fees before settling any of their debts. The rule is intended to protect consumers ...

Industry Groups Express Privacy Concerns With Narrative Proposal

Some industry representatives are worried about maintaining the privacy of consumer personal data in the context of expanding the CFPB’s complaint database with consumer narratives, as the bureau recently proposed. Meanwhile, others fret that financial services companies will be unjustifiably smeared by rumors and false accusations. “[W]e have grave concerns that the CFPB’s public database of complaint information puts consumers’ nonpublic personal information at risk of public discovery,” said the Consumer Mortgage Coalition. “The CFPB now proposes to expand the amount and types of information it will publish, which increases the risk and extent of inappropriate breaches of consumer’s privacy without their knowledge.” In the new age of “Big Data,” concerns about the privacy of consumers’ personal information are heightened ...

ABA Urges OMB to Deep-Six CFPB Debt Collection Survey Request

The American Bankers Association has weighed in once again on the CFPB’s proposed information collection request filed with the Office of Management and Budget to survey consumers about their experience with debt collection – this time asking it be shut down entirely. In its first comment on an earlier iteration of the bureau’s request, the ABA expressed general support for a consumer survey. However, the industry group identified “significant design and methodological concerns” and suggested changes to the survey instrument and its administration that the banking industry believes will improve the integrity and practical utility of the proposed information collection. Unfortunately, in the revised proposal, the CFPB responds “only perfunctorily to stakeholder comments and reflects very little real change to the ...

Incorrect Collection Attempts Dominate Debt Collection Gripes

The debt collection industry still has plenty of work to do in terms of correcting its collection attempts against delinquent borrowers, according to a new ranking and analysis by Inside the CFPB. “Incorrect collection attempts” were far and away the leading consumer complaint about the industry submitted to the CFPB, with more than 12,000 such gripes filed, nearly 40 percent of all debt-collection criticisms, the analysis found. (See chart on page 7.) The biggest offender in this regard was Encore Capital Group, with 925 such complaints. MNE Services Inc., on the other hand, had the lowest number of gripes in this area, 19, among the top 50 companies in the ranking. “Communication tactics” ranked second among types of consumer complaints ...

CBA Concerned about CFPB’s Campus Products Allegations

The Consumer Bankers Association took issue with letters CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman Rohit Chopra recently sent to financial institutions that have contractual relationships with colleges and universities, calling for public disclosure of their campus marketing agreements. Chopra’s letter stated the institutions’ failure to be transparent about the terms of these proprietary agreements “may pose potential consumer protection risks.” However, CBA President and CEO Richard Hunt said Chopra did not provide any basis for or evidence to support these provocative claims. “On the contrary, relationships between banks and schools often provide students with great benefits by providing much needed financial literacy, safe and secure debit cards, low or no-fee checking accounts and access to convenient on-campus branches and ATMs; and students ...

CFPB Officials Answer Some Industry Questions About TRID

Officials from the CFPB jumped into the mortgage compliance weeds during a webinar last week to answer some industry questions about its Truth in Lending Act/Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure rule, otherwise known as “TRID,” which takes effect in August of next year. Among the questions bureau staff discussed were a handful related to disclosure and re-disclosure timing. For instance, a number of industry representatives asked whether the seven-day waiting period before consummation that applies to loan estimates also applies to revised disclosures. “No, the seven-day waiting period is a Truth in Lending Act statutory waiting period that applies today to the initial TILA disclosures, and after August of next year, to the loan estimate provided after application ...

CFPB Extends Remittance Transfer Rule Exception for Depositories

The CFPB finalized revisions to its international remittance transfer rule, most notably including a five-year extension for a temporary exception that allows insured depository institutions to estimate fees and exchange rates in certain circumstances. The original expiration date for the exception was July 21, 2015. The extension pushes the shelf life of the exception out to July 21, 2020. If the temporary exception were to expire in July 2015, current market conditions would make it impossible for insured institutions to know the exact fees and exchange rates associated with a minority of their remittance transfers, according to the CFPB. “Without the exemption, these insured institutions reported that they would have been unable to send some transfers to certain parts of ...

Enforcement Roundup

Flagstar in Talks with CFPB Over Alleged Loss Mitigation Violations. Flagstar Bancorp, the parent of the nation’s 17th largest residential servicer, disclosed in a new regulatory filing that it is in talks with the CFPB over alleged violations of federal law arising from the bank’s loss mitigation practices and default servicing operations dating back to 2011. Flagstar Bank FSB, which owns roughly $69 billion in mortgage servicing rights, said it has already provided the CFPB with documents and “other information” regarding the matter in response to a civil investigative demand. “While the bank intends to vigorously defend against any enforcement action that may be brought, it has commenced discussions with the CFPB staff to determine if a settlement can be ...

Worth Noting

CFPB, Other Feds, Issue Guidance on Unfair or Deceptive Credit Practices. In another changing of the regulatory guard, the Federal Reserve is repealing its Regulation AA (unfair or deceptive acts or practices), as per the mandate of the Dodd-Frank Act, reflecting the fact that the CFPB has inherited the Fed’s authority over such practices. At the same time, the Fed joined the CFPB, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the National Credit Union Administration, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in issuing joint interagency guidance on the subject. The guidance notes that while the Federal Trade Commission’s credit practices rule remains in effect, the credit practices rules for banks, savings associations, and federal credit unions are being repealed as ...

Movers and Shakers

CFPB Makes New Senior Hires. Last week, the CFPB announced it was bringing mortgage industry veteran Patricia McClung on board as assistant director for mortgage markets. Prior to coming to the bureau, McClung worked at the FHA as a senior housing policy advisor, after a stint at Realtors Property Resource, a technology subsidiary of National Association of Realtors. The majority of her career was spent at Freddie Mac. Janneke Ratcliffe joins the CFPB as assistant director for financial education. Since 2005, Ratcliffe has served as executive director at the Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ratcliffe’s career includes a 10-year stint at GE Capital in mortgage and mortgage insurance. Meanwhile, Will Wade-Gery has ...

Legislative Update

Bipartisan Legislation Would Increase Threshold for CFPB Supervision. Right before Congress took off for its summer recess, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana introduced S. 2732, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Examination and Reporting Threshold Act of 2014. The act would increase the current $10 billion asset threshold figure at which regulated depository institutions are subject to direct examination and reporting requirements of the CFPB to $50 billion. “The higher threshold would be substantially the same as the threshold for a bank to be designated ‘systemically important’ (i.e., assets of $50 billion or more),” said attorney Barbara Mishkin, of counsel with the Ballard Spahr law firm, in a recent client note. CBO Pegs ...

Looking Ahead/Comments Due This Month

September 4: The Financial Stability Oversight Council, of which the CFPB is a member, is scheduled to convene for a closed session on Thursday, Sept. 4. The preliminary agenda includes a discussion of nonbank financial company designations, consideration of the council’s fiscal year 2015 budget, a discussion of the council’s work on asset management, and an update on the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s recent review of resolution plans submitted by large, complex banking organizations. September 8: The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are due to return to Capitol Hill the week of Sept. 8. Lawmakers will be faced with a shrinking window of opportunity to consider numerous CFPB-related bills that have been passed by the ...

Poll

Home-equity lending is beginning to show new life. My company (pick one):

Plans to enter this market over the next 12 months.

25%

Is already making home equity loans and hopes to increase the offerings.

45%

Is in the market but don’t expect much growth.

15%

Is not making second liens and has no plans to do so.

15%

Housing Pulse