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Steven Kaplan is a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington DC office and a member of the Consumer Financial Services group. He concentrates his practice on matters related to consumer financial products and represents clients in federal and state supervisory matters, investigations and enforcement proceedings. He also advises clients on compliance with federal and state laws governing licensing and practices of financial institutions, mortgage lenders, consumer finance companies, loan servicers, prepaid card issuers, payment system providers and secondary market participants. Steven acts as regulatory counsel in connection with investments or acquisitions related to consumer loans and other consumer financial products and performing regulatory compliance due diligence. Additionally, Steven assists with structuring operations and developing compliance management systems and due diligence programs and with litigation involving regulatory compliance matters.

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On June 22, 2017, the CFPB’s Student Loan Ombudsman put out its annual report on student loans, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act. The report analyzes complaints submitted by consumers about student loan servicers between March 2016 and February 2017. Many of the complaints relate to practices, such as payment processing, customer service and borrower communication, and income-based repayment plan enrollment, that the CFPB has frequently scrutinized in the past through supervision and enforcement activities.

However, the majority of the report focuses on complaints from consumers related to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which allows those who enter careers in public service to have their student loans forgiven after a decade. The CFPB’s report criticizes servicers’ alleged failures to actively advise borrowers on how to qualify for PSLF, track their progress toward PSLF completion, and inform them about the requirements of the PSLF program. In conjunction with the report, the CFPB updated its education loan examination procedures to include additional questions about the PSLF program. Continue Reading CFPB Issues Report on Student Loan Servicing and Updated Examination Procedures

Flood insurance reform continues to generate interest from Congress, particularly in the context of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reauthorization debate. (The program will expire September 30, 2017, absent reauthorization or a continuing resolution.)

In December we discussed a proposed rule to implement the statutory definition of “private flood insurance.” That proposal was related to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act’s requirement that the agencies issue a rule directing lending institutions to accept such insurance, with the goal of stimulating the private flood insurance market.  In March, Senators Heller (R-NV) and Tester (D-MT), and Reps. Ross (R-FL) and Castor (D-FL),** reintroduced legislation to further define “private flood insurance,” seeking to clarify the issue, and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs recently held hearings on the Senate version of that legislation. Continue Reading Redefining Private Flood Insurance*

Last week was busy for the financial technology industry (Fintechs) and non-bank regulators.

New York joined the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) in filing a lawsuit against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and announced plans to adopt a uniform licensing system for Fintechs. CSBS issued its support of the lawsuit, announced Vision 2020 for Fintechs, and invited industry to participate in developing the uniform licensing system (the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System, or NMLS) chosen by most state regulatory agencies as the universal platform for licensing and supervising the Fintech business sector.

Learn more about Vision 2020 and NMLS 2.0 in Mayer Brown’s Legal Update.

On May 15, the Supreme Court held that a debt collector does not violate the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) by knowingly attempting to collect a debt in bankruptcy proceedings after the statute of limitations for collecting that debt has expired. As explained in Mayer Brown’s Decision Alerts, the FDCPA generally prohibits a debt collector from using false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means in collecting debts. In the opinion for the Court, Justice Breyer looked to state law to determine whether the creditor had a right to payment. Under Alabama law, a creditor has the right to payment of a debt even after the limitations period has expired. Accordingly, a creditor may legitimately claim the existence of a debt even if the debt is no longer enforceable in a collection action. Likewise, the streamlined rules of bankruptcy proceedings mean that it is not obviously “unfair” for a creditor to inject an additional claim into the proceedings, even if it would be unfair for a creditor to file a standalone civil action to collect a time-barred debt.

In addition, the Court also held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts any state law that discriminates against arbitration on its face, and any rule that disfavors contracts with features of an arbitration agreement. Mayer Brown, which represented the petitioner before the Court, explained the case in its Decision Alerts.  The FAA requires courts to place arbitration provisions on an equal footing with other contract terms. However, the Kentucky Supreme Court had refused to enforce two arbitration provisions executed by individuals holding powers of attorney, because the power-of-attorney documents did not specifically mention arbitration or the ability to waive the principals’ right to trial by jury. The Supreme Court held that Kentucky’s rule violates the FAA by singling out arbitration agreements for disfavored treatment, explaining that “the waiver of the right to go to court and receive a jury trial” is a “primary characteristic of an arbitration agreement.” The Court explained that the FAA “cares not only about the ‘enforce[ment]’ of arbitration agreements, but also about their initial ‘valid[ity]’—that is, about what it takes to enter into them.”  The Court also pointed out that a contrary interpretation would make it “trivially easy” for courts hostile to arbitration to undermine the FAA—“indeed, to wholly defeat it.”

For more docket reports and decision alerts, go to Mayer Brown’s appellate.net.

A complaint filed March 23 by the bankruptcy trustee for Lam Cloud Management, LLC in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey challenges two small business financing models: (i) merchant cash advances (“MCAs”); and (ii) small business loans originated under bank partnerships.  While disposition of the complaint will take time, and all that is available for now are bare allegations, the complaint is another recent challenge involving usury and bank partner programs and warrants attention from entities involved in small business financing and lending. Continue Reading NJ Bankruptcy Case Takes Aim at Small Business Financing — Merchant Cash Advances and Bank Partnerships

A federal district court in California handed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) a big win on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, granting the agency summary judgment on liability in its lawsuit against CashCall, Inc., its affiliated entities and its owner. In a 16-page decision and order, the US District Court for the Central District of California ruled that CashCall engaged in deceptive practices by servicing and collecting on loans in certain states where the interest rate on the loans exceeded the state usury limit and/or where CashCall was not a licensed lender. The decision represents an additional judicial touchpoint on the important question of who is a “true lender” in a transaction and validates, at least for now, the CFPB’s theory that collecting on loans that state law renders void and/or uncollectable constitutes a violation of federal law. Read more about the decision in Mayer Brown’s Legal Update, available here.

 

Nearly three years after releasing its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on debt collection practices, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has finally offered some insight on its plans for issuing rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. On July 28, 2016, the CFPB released an outline of proposals that it is considering in preparation for the next step in the rulemaking process—convening a Small Business Review Panel. Read more about the proposals under consideration, particularly in light of past CFPB enforcement actions and guidance, in Mayer Brown’s Legal Update, available here.

 

The controversial decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, was “incorrect” and “reflects an unduly crabbed conception of [National Bank Act] preemption,” said the Solicitor General and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) in the amicus brief filed with the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday.  Still, the Solicitor General and the OCC advised the Court not to review the decision of the Second Circuit in Madden.  They concluded that this just isn’t the right case for the Court to resolve the important questions of whether and under what circumstances the National Bank Act preempts state usury laws for assignees of loans made by national banks. Continue Reading Madden Update: Solicitor General Says the Second Circuit Got it Wrong—But that the Decision Should Still Stand for Now

Today, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins.  In a win for the business community, the Court held that plaintiffs can’t satisfy Article III’s injury-in-fact requirement for standing to sue in federal court by merely alleging the violation of a statute, without any accompanying real-world injury.  For more details on the decision, which arose based on claims brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, please see the report by my colleagues, who represented Spokeo before the Supreme Court.

The hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on April 12 was a tale of two arguments.

The presentation on behalf of PHH was relatively uneventful: its counsel (Ted Olson) was asked a limited number of questions in roughly 25 minutes at the podium, with at least five minutes passing before the first question was posed. In contrast, counsel for the CFPB (Larry Demille-Wagman) was kept at the podium for a solid 40 minutes and subjected to a steady stream of tough questions.

While it is hard to predict based on the oral argument how the Court of Appeals will rule, including whether the Court will reach the constitutional questions it previously raised, today’s argument suggests that the CFPB may well be on track for its first major litigation defeat. Continue Reading U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Sharply Questions CFPB At Oral Argument In PHH Corp. v. CFPB