Like most industries today, Consumer Finance Services businesses are being significantly impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton have developed a dedicated COVID-19 Resource Center to guide clients through this unprecedented global health challenge. We regularly update this site with COVID-19 news and developments, recommendations from leading health organizations, and tools that businesses can use free of charge.
To help you keep abreast of relevant activities, below is a breakdown of some of the biggest COVID-19 driven events at the Federal and State levels to impact the Consumer Finance Services industry this past week:
- On June 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a series of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the use of masks in the workplace in response the COVID-19 health emergency. For more information, click here.
- On June 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the award of three Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) totaling $16,836,480 to help address the workforce-related impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency. These awards are funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided $345 million for DWGs to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, click here.
- On June 8, 2020, the Federal Reserve Board expanded its Main Street Lending Program to allow more small and medium-sized businesses to receive financial support. The Board lowered the minimum loan amount, raised the maximum loan limit, adjusted the principal repayment schedule to begin after two years, and extended the term to five years, providing borrowers with greater flexibility in repaying the loans. For more information, click here.
- On June 5, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (H.R. 7010) (PPPFA), which makes substantial changes to the loan forgiveness component of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). On May 28, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the PPPFA and the bill was promptly sent to the U.S. Senate for further consideration. Although there were initial objections from some Senators, ultimately, the Senate passed the PPPFA by a unanimous voice vote on June 3, 2020. The PPPFA establishes a minimum maturity of 5 years for a paycheck protection loan with a remaining balance after forgiveness, and it also extends the covered period during which a loan recipient may use such funds for certain expenses while remaining eligible for forgiveness. For more information, click here.
- On June 3, 2020, the Federal Reserve Board announced an expansion in the number and type of entities eligible to directly use its Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). Under the new terms, all U.S. states, including the District of Columbia, will be able to have at least two cities or counties eligible to directly issue notes to the MLF regardless of population. For more information, click here.
- On May 21, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report providing an analysis of the complaints it has received since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the number of complaints has increased dramatically. For more information, click here.
- On June 5, 2020, the New Mexico Supreme Court announced in an order that it is indefinitely suspending the issuance of new writs of garnishment and writs of execution in an effort to protect individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, click here.
- On June 4, 2020, Commissioner Sandy O’Laughlin of the State of Nevada Financial Institutions Division informed licensed collection agencies that they may resume operations contingent upon compliance with any outstanding emergency directive issued by Governor Steve Sisolak, guidance issued by a state agency, Justice court orders for each jurisdiction, and health and safety guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Nevada. For more information, click here.
- On May 29, 2020, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an order on the statute of limitations and garnishment of CARES Act payments. The order suspends the statute of limitations periods until August 15, 2020. Likewise, no interest can be charged on judgments until August 15, 2020. Finally, the order mandates that CARES Act stimulus funds cannot be attached or garnished until January 1, 2021. For more information, click here.
- On May 29, 2020, the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, issued an order extending a debt collection prohibition and other restrictions on garnishment proceedings through June 17, 2020. The purpose of the order is to protect CARES Act stimulus payments, as well as state and federal unemployment payments, from bank account garnishments to collect judgments based on consumer debt. For more information, click here.
- The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs issued new debt collection rules that are scheduled to take effect on June 27, 2020. These rules require “debt collectors”, which includes both creditors and collection agencies, to retain a record of the language preference of each consumer from whom the debt collector attempts to collect a debt. Additionally, the new rules mandate that debt collectors provide notice to consumers that language access services are available to them. For more information, click here.
- On June 12, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance regarding how health care providers may contact their patients who have recovered from COVID-19 — implicating existing regulations in connection with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. This guidance explains how health care providers can connect COVID-19 survivors with blood and plasma donation opportunities and further public health consistent with patient privacy. To read the full announcement, click here.
- On June 11, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated the type of information it is displaying in its new interactive COVID-19 complaint data dashboard. The FTC is now including more state-level information regarding complaints it receives from consumers related to COVID-19. The increase in reports reflect that online shopping problems top the list in most states. To read the full report, click here.
- On June 10, 2020, the California State Assembly approved AB 2208. The bill would authorize the California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, exercise proper supervision over online platforms to protect California’s donors from deceptive or misleading charitable solicitations, such as those made to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. If the bill is signed into law, it would:
- “[r]equire covered entities to provide meaningful and transparent disclosures on their internet platforms” made in connection to charitable solicitations; and
- “[a]uthorize the Attorney General’s Office to implement regulations to require donor notification and reporting requirements, and to encourage transparency and accountability.”
To read the full announcement made by the California Attorney General’s Office, click here.
- On June 09, 2020, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) released new guidelines for libraries reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance addresses frequently asked questions such as:
- Can public libraries require temperature or health status checks before staff or patrons enter the building?
- Can public libraries be required to use sign-in logs for access to the library that collects personally identifiable information of patrons for release to other agencies for contact tracing?
To read more about ALA’s guidelines for libraries planning to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.