Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic stress it is imposing on residential mortgage borrowers, lenders and servicers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a compliance bulletin and policy guidance regarding the handling of information and documents in mortgage servicing transfers. While not specifically motivated by the COVID-19 crisis, Bulletin 2020-02
Earlier this month, the Bureau released its Summer 2019 edition of Supervisory Highlights. This is the second edition issued under Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger, who was confirmed to a five-year term in December 2018. The report covers examinations that were generally completed between December 2018 and March 2019 and, as such, is the first edition of Supervisory Highlights to cover examination activities that occurred during Kraninger’s tenure as Director. This edition is much the same as previous editions, but unlike many past versions, it does not address any mortgage servicing-related findings. Instead the report focuses on, among other things, UDAAPs (including, notably, an abusiveness finding), furnishing of consumer report information, and technical regulatory violations. The report also details supervision program developments.
Remarkably, there is no mention of any public enforcement action resulting from supervisory examination work. It is standard practice for the Bureau to use these reports to tout both public and nonpublic remedial actions that stemmed from examinations—but here we don’t see that, and it is not clear whether that is because none of the enforcement actions the Bureau has taken as of late actually came out of supervisory exams or if they chose not to highlight remedial actions for some other reason. …
Continue Reading CFPB’s Latest Supervisory Highlights Focuses on UDAAPs, Furnishing, and Technical Regulatory Requirements
Earlier this week, the Bureau released the Winter 2019 edition of Supervisory Highlights. This marks the first edition issued under the CFPB’s new Director, Kathy Kraninger, who was confirmed to a five-year term in December. The report describes observations from examinations that were generally completed between June and November 2018 and summarizes recent publicly-released enforcement actions and guidance.
Like the sole edition of Supervisory Highlights issued under Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s tenure, this edition emphasizes that “it is important to keep in mind that institutions are subject only to the requirements of relevant laws and regulations,” and that the purpose of disseminating Supervisory Highlights is to “help institutions better understand” how the Bureau examines them for compliance—statements that signal a shift in how the Bureau approaches its supervisory role.…
Continue Reading First Supervisory Highlights Under Director Kraninger Reflects Focus on Corrective Action and Prevention of Harm
On October 17, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (“BCFP” or “Bureau”) issued its Fall 2018 regulatory agenda. Notable highlights include:
- Payday Lending Rule Amendments. In January 2018, the Bureau announced that it would engage in rulemaking to reconsider its Payday Lending Rule released in October 2017. According to the Bureau’s Fall 2018 agenda, the Bureau expects to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking by January 2019 that will address both the merits and the compliance date (currently August 2019) of the rule.
- Debt Collection Rule Coming. The Bureau expects to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking addressing debt collection-related communication practices and consumer disclosures by March 2019. The Bureau explained that debt collection remains a top source of the complaints it receives and both industry and consumer groups have encouraged the Bureau to modernize Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) requirements through rulemaking. The Bureau did not specify whether its proposed rulemaking would be limited to third-party collectors subject to the FDCPA, but its reference to FDCPA-requirements suggests that is likely to be the case.
- Small Business Lending Data Collection Rule Delayed. The Dodd-Frank Act amended the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) to require financial institutions to submit certain information relating to credit applications made by women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses to the Bureau and gave the Bureau the authority to require financial institutions to submit additional data. In May 2017, the Bureau issued a Request for Information seeking comment on small business lending data collection. While the BCFP’s Spring 2018 agenda listed this item as in the pre-rule stage, the Bureau has now delayed its work on the rule and reclassified it as a long-term action. The Bureau noted that it “intends to continue certain market monitoring and research activities to facilitate resumption of the rulemaking.”
- HMDA Data Disclosure Rule. The Bureau expects to issue guidance later this year to govern public disclosure of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (“HMDA”) data for 2018. The Bureau also announced that it has decided to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking to govern public disclosure of HMDA data in future years.
- Assessment of Prior Rules – Remittances, Mortgage Servicing, QM; TRID up next. The Dodd-Frank Act requires the Bureau to conduct an assessment of each significant rule adopted by the Bureau under Federal consumer financial law within five years after the effective date of the rule. In accordance with this requirement, the Bureau announced that it expects to complete its assessments of the Remittance Rule, the 2013 RESPA Mortgage Servicing Rule, and the Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule by January 2019. At that time, it will begin its assessment of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID).
- Abusiveness Rule? Consistent with recent statements by Acting Director Mick Mulvaney that while unfairness and deception are well-established in the law, abusiveness is not, the Bureau stated that it is considering whether to clarify the meaning of abusiveness through rulemaking. The Bureau under former Director Richard Cordray rejected defining abusiveness through rulemaking (although the payday rule relied, in part, on the Bureau’s abusiveness authority), preferring instead to bring abusiveness claims in enforcement proceedings to establish the contours of the prohibition. Time will tell if the Bureau will follow through on this.
Last week the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (“BCFP” or “Bureau”) issued guidance on the operations of financial institutions and other supervised entities in the wake of major disasters and emergencies. The guidance explains that supervised entities have flexibility under the existing regulatory framework to take action that could benefit affected consumers.
This is not the first time the Bureau has issued guidance on this topic. Last year, the Bureau released a statement on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and another on Hurricane Maria. Unlike the prior guidance, the statement released last week does not address a particular emergency or disaster but applies to emergencies in general.
The new guidance echoes prior guidance by providing examples in which regulations allow flexibility. For instance:
- Although RESPA’s Regulation X generally prohibits residential mortgage servicers from offering a loss mitigation option to borrowers based on an evaluation of an incomplete application, the guidance notes servicers may nonetheless offer short-term loss mitigation options. Because it could be difficult for consumers impacted by a disaster to obtain and submit the necessary documents to complete a timely application, this exception may allow servicers to better assist those borrowers.
- Although ECOA’s Regulation B generally requires creditors to provide first-lien loan applicants with copies of appraisals or other written valuations promptly upon completion, or three business days prior to consummation or account opening, whichever is earlier, the guidance notes that the applicant generally may waive that timing requirement and agree to receive the copy at or before consummation or account opening (except where otherwise prohibited by law). That exception may allow supervised entities to give consumers impacted by a disaster quicker access to credit.
Unlike prior guidance that expressly “encouraged” supervised entities to take these steps, this latest guidance only states that supervised entities are permitted to use the flexibility. …
Continue Reading BCFP Releases New Guidance on Major Disasters and Emergencies
The Summer 2018 edition of Supervisory Highlights –the first one the BCFP has issued under Mick Mulvaney’s leadership – is much the same as previous editions. In it, the Bureau describes recent supervisory observations in various industries, and summarizes recent public enforcement actions as well as supervision program developments.
One aspect of the report that is notably different, however, is the introductory language. In prior regular editions of Supervisory Highlights, the report’s introduction would emphasize the corrective action that the Bureau had required of supervised institutions. It would highlight the amount of total restitution to consumers and the number of consumers affected by supervisory activities, and would note the millions of dollars imposed in civil money penalties.
This new version eliminates all of that discussion from the introduction. Instead, the Bureau has added language emphasizing that “institutions are subject only to the requirements of relevant laws and regulations” and that the purpose of disseminating these Supervisory Highlights is to “help institutions better understand how the Bureau examines institutions” to help industry limit risks to consumers.
The first sentence of the report, which in previous iterations used to say that the Bureau is “committed to a consumer financial marketplace that is fair, transparent, and competitive, and that works for all consumers” now says the Bureau is committed to a marketplace that is “free, innovative, competitive, and transparent, where the rights of all parties are protected by the rule of law, and where consumers are free to choose the products and services that best fit their individual needs.”
Ultimately, time will tell whether this is simply rhetoric or if the Bureau’s supervisory and enforcement posture will be dramatically different from that under Mulvaney’s predecessor.…
Continue Reading BCFP’s Latest Supervisory Highlights
On May 8, 2018, the House of Representatives used the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) to vote to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) March 2013 bulletin addressing indirect auto lending and compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”). That vote follows the Senate’s April 18 CRA vote to repeal the bulletin. President Trump…
On January 24, 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) announced that it is seeking public comment on all aspects of its civil investigative demand (“CID”) process. This Request for Information (“RFI”) is the first in a series of RFIs in which the Bureau plans to seek comment on its enforcement, supervision, rulemaking, market monitoring, and education activities.
The RFI comes on the heels of Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s announcement that the CFPB will no longer “push the envelope” when it comes to enforcement. Consistent with that sentiment, the RFI explains that the CFPB is “especially interested in better understanding how its processes related to CIDs may be updated, streamlined, or revised to better achieve the Bureau’s statutory and regulatory objectives, while minimizing burdens.” Because responding to the CFPB’s CIDs has often proved to be an arduous and costly endeavor, this RFI is likely to be a welcome opportunity for many regulated entities.…
Continue Reading CFPB Requests Comments on Civil Investigative Demand Process
For those who thought that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may be getting bored with US mortgage loan servicing as it turns its attention to arbitration clauses, payday lending and other non-mortgage consumer credit issues, no such luck. Last week, the CFPB released a “special edition” of its Supervisory Highlights focused on examinations of…