Like most industries today, Consumer Finance Services businesses are being significantly impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Troutman Pepper has 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:
Privacy and Cybersecurity Activities
- On August 8, 2020, President Donald Trump signed a number of executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including one that will defer payments on all student loans held by the Department of Education and waive all interest until December 31, 2020. The other executive orders signed by the President pertain to deferring payroll tax obligations, evictions, and unemployment insurance. For more information, click here.
- On August 5, 2020, American Financial Services Association, American Bankers Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Consumer Bankers Association, Housing Policy Council, Independent Community Bankers of America, and Mortgage Bankers Association sent a letter requesting that the Senate Banking Committee refrain from adding new credit reporting provisions that may negatively impact consumers as federal lawmakers consider potential financial provisions for the next installment of COVID-19 response legislation. For more information, click here.
- On August 3, 2020, the Federal Reserve and the other Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council members issued the Joint Statement on Additional Loan Accommodations Related to COVID-19. This statement discusses risk management principles relevant to institutions that work with their borrowers as loans near the end of initial loan accommodation periods related to COVID-19. For more information, click here.
- On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department, as chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, published its Annual Report to Congress on all notices filed with CFIUS in 2019 and all reviews or investigations completed during 2019. For more information, click here.
- On July 29, 2020, the Federal Reserve Board issued its Federal Open Market Committee Statement. The statement expresses the Board’s commitment “to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum employment and price stability goals.” To read the full statement, click here.
- On August 7, 2020, in a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court of Virginia granted a request from Governor Ralph Northam to temporarily stop eviction proceedings through September 7, 2020. The Court’s Order notes that this suspension does not apply to evictions that are unrelated to the tenant’s failure to pay rent. For more information, click here.
- On August 6, 2020, The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to clarify the scope and intent of the foreign language services rule. The foreign language services rule requires that debt collectors request and record the language preference of each consumer and inform the consumer if they offer any services in a language other than English. For more information, click here.
- On August 3, 2020, the Illinois Department of Public Health published a summary of whistleblower and anti-retaliation provisions raised by the COVID-19 pandemic: “Guidance for Employers and Employees on Workers’ Rights and Safety During Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.” This guidance covers workers’ rights and safety as they return to work during the pandemic. It also includes specific federal, state, and local protections against whistleblower retaliation. For more information, click here.
- On August 3, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down four parts of the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As a result of the decision:
- An employee may be eligible for FFCRA leave even if the employer has no work for the employee or the employee is furloughed;
- More employees at health care institutions will be eligible for FFCRA leave;
- Employees may take intermittent FFCRA leave to care for a child or, when working remotely, for any FFCRA qualifying reason, without employer permission; and
- Employees don’t need to provide supporting paperwork before taking FFCRA leave.For information, click here.
Privacy and Cybersecurity Activities:
- On August 7, 2020, California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, warned consumers about online scams involving digital currencies. As consumers are increasingly strapped for cash during the COVID-19 pandemic, Becerra warns that well-known individuals have been impersonated online in an attempt to “rob Californians of their hard-earned savings.” Read the full warning by clicking here.
- On August 7, 2020, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an update on election threats, stating that “[o]ne of the best tools our election officials and the American people have to help defend against election interference is transparency on the risks to elections.” CISA has taken steps to mitigate risks in the last several years, and it will continue to do so to ensure “American voters decide American elections.” Click here to read the full update.
- On August 5, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the FTC’s recent work in protecting “consumers and promote competition, including its efforts to combat frauds designed to take advantage of consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Several topics came up, including:
- A request to reauthorize the U.S. SAFEWEB Act (which allows the FTC to work with foreign authorities on cross-border law enforcement).
- Described the growing need for federal privacy and data protection legislation in light of contact tracing and the increase in health monitoring
- The educational environment during COVID-19 also means that the nation’s children are the most at risk with no federal privacy legislation.To read the full announcement made by the FTC, click here. The International Association of Privacy Professionals also reported on the hearing and can be read by clicking here. For businesses covered by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), check out our most recent post (CCPA Enforcement Area No. 4) discussing the Attorney General’s focus on organizations collecting children’s information.
- On August 5, 2020, the state of Virginia became the nation’s first state to implement a contact-tracing application with the support of Apple and Google’s “Exposure Notification API.” As states begin to develop their applications, Apple and Google continue to update the API to allow local governments more flexibility in development, while preserving citizens’ privacy. For a discussion of best practices that makers of contact-tracing apps should consider, see Troutman Pepper’s article here.
- On August 3, 2020, President Trump signed executive orders aimed toward improving healthcare accessibility. The executive order proposes to extend parts of Medicare’s “broader coverage of telehealth beyond the end of the current public health emergency.” The order also aims to “promote rural access to telehealth via broadband.” To read more about the announcement, click here.
- The week of August 3, 2020, became the first full week where Kansas residents will have the option to “opt-out of contact tracing.” The Contact Tracing Privacy Act aims to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Kansans by developing specific regulations over contact tracing. To learn more, click here.