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On October 4, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued an interim final rule and a proposed rule related to the 2016 Mortgage Servicing Final Rule to clarify the timing of and facilitate the provision of certain required communications with borrowers.

The CFPB amended its mortgage servicing rules in August 2016, to go into effect in large part on October 19, 2017 (the “2016 Final Rule”). One provision of the 2016 Final Rule requires mortgage servicers to send certain delinquent borrowers early intervention notices, modified for use with a borrower who has requested a cease in communication under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The FDCPA allows borrowers to request that servicers and other companies refrain from contacting them except in certain circumstances, such as when a borrower becomes delinquent. The 2016 Final Rule exempts servicers from sending the early intervention notices only in situations where the borrower does not have a loss mitigation option available or where the borrower is a debtor in bankruptcy.

Under the 2016 Final Rule, mortgage servicers, when communicating with consumers who have invoked the FDCPA’s cease communication right, were required to provide the consumers modified early intervention notices, but only once every 180 days. Continue Reading It’s All in the Timing: CFPB Addresses Timing Challenges in 2016 Mortgage Servicing Rules

On January 31, 2017, the CFPB released its Prepaid Rule Small Entity Compliance Guide to facilitate comprehension of and the implementation of the new prepaid rule on October 1, 2017. As described in our prior Legal Update, the CFPB issued the final prepaid rule in October 2016 which amends Regulation E to cover prepaid accounts including payroll card accounts, government benefit accounts, and other types of prepaid products.  The Compliance Guide details requirements of the new rule and provides examples to help illustrate key aspects including what constitutes a prepaid account, the entities subject to the new rule, disclosure obligations, and error resolution procedures, among others.

Just one day after the CFPB’s release of the Guide, Senator David Perdue (R-GA) introduced a joint resolution of disapproval aimed at wiping the prepaid rule off the books pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.  Under the CRA, Congress may overturn new federal agency regulations by reviewing them within a certain time period, passing a joint resolution of disapproval in each chamber, and obtaining the president’s signature.  On February 3, Representative Tom Graves (R-GA) followed suit, introducing a similar joint resolution in the House of Representatives.  Stay tuned for updates on whether the prepaid rule’s future may truly be in jeopardy.

On Friday, January 13, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a lawsuit against a Minnesota bank in which it alleged that the bank violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by unlawfully redlining in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan statistical area (“Minneapolis MSA”).  The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, claims that from 2010 to at least 2015, the bank purposely avoided serving the credit needs of residents in majority-minority neighborhoods while meeting the credit needs of residents in majority-white neighborhoods.  The DOJ is seeking damages for aggrieved persons, civil money penalties, and injunctive relief. The bank has chosen to litigate, rather than settle, as it believes the DOJ’s claim is baseless. Continue Reading Redlining Revelations: DOJ Lawsuit Alleges Discriminatory Practices by Bank

On June 27, 2016, a New York federal jury found that a bank and its affiliated mortgage company violated the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the New York City Human Rights Law by intentionally marketing to African-American and Hispanic homeowners predatory loans with default interest rates of 18 percent.

In 2011, eight homeowners filed suit in the Eastern District of New York, claiming that between 2004 and 2009 the bank “aggressively originated” no income refinancing loans with unfavorable terms to them because they were minority borrowers.

According to the 2014 amended complaint, the bank marketed NINA (No Income No Assets) loans to homeowners with low credit scores but substantial equity in their houses. When issuing these loans, the bank did not consider the homeowners’ ability to repay but valued the loan based on the home’s equity. Homeowners could be charged an interest rate of 18 percent if they were late by 30 days in making a single payment.

The homeowners alleged they were purposely targeted for these loans because of their poor credit and resulting likelihood of default, and that this practice had a disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic borrowers. Specifically, the complaint stated that “[s]ince black and Latino individuals are disproportionately represented among persons with low credit scores, [the bank’s] marketing of these abusive loans to this population ensured that the loans would have their greatest impact on minority homeowners.” The jury found that the bank’s practices constituted violations of the federal fair lending laws and the New York state law.

Six of the plaintiffs were awarded a combined $950,000 in damages, while the jury found that the remaining two homeowners waived their claims upon modifying their loans and were not eligible for damages. The bank has asserted its plan to appeal the decision.

Legal Services NYC, who represented several of the homeowners, stated that the case marks the first time a jury has held a bank liable for reverse redlining.

Lenders that offer loans to consumers with impaired credit should consider evaluating their practices for potential reverse redlining risk.

*Mrs. Moyer is not admitted in the District of Columbia. She is practicing under the supervision of firm principals

*Mrs. Moyer is not admitted in the District of Columbia. She is practicing under the supervision of firm principals.

On June 29, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) jointly filed a complaint against a regional bank alleging that the bank discriminated against African-American borrowers in many aspects of its mortgage lending services. The agencies alleged that the bank’s discriminatory practices violated both the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and the Fair Housing Act. Below we outline the primary allegations in the complaint, the main terms of the consent order, and the key takeaways from this recent action. This is the CFPB’s first use of mystery shoppers to identify discrimination in a fair lending enforcement action and may offer a sign of what’s to come. Continue Reading Mystery Shopping Revelations: CFPB, DOJ, Bring Action Against Regional Bank for Discriminatory Lending Practices Confirmed by Testers*

*Mrs. Moyer is not admitted in the District of Columbia. She is practicing under the supervision of firm principals.

On June 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a conciliation agreement with a bank, resolving allegations that the bank engaged in discrimination by denying the mortgage applications of African-American and Hispanic applicants at a disproportionally higher rate than white applicants.  The complaint, filed on December 23, 2011, resulted from a HUD review of the bank’s 2010 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data.  During its investigation, HUD analyzed mortgages that were first denied by an automated underwriting system (AUS), and then manually underwritten, and determined that white applicants received unjustified preferential treatment in the manual underwriting process in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Although neither the conciliation agreement nor HUD’s press release on the settlement mentioned redlining, the settlement terms included provisions typically associated with resolving redlining claims.  Continue Reading The Devil’s In the Data: HUD Settles Complaint Arising From HMDA Data*

*Mrs. Schoenfeld is not admitted in the District of Columbia. She is practicing under the supervision of firm principals

On April 29, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) issued its fourth Fair Lending Report, which reviews the activities of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity for the 2015 calendar year.  Last year, the CFPB’s fair lending supervisory and public enforcement actions led to $108 million in restitution to consumers and other monetary payments.  The Bureau referred eight matters to the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), and DOJ declined to independently investigate two of these matters.

The Report focuses on the following fair lending highlights: Continue Reading The CFPB Issues its 2015 Fair Lending Report