Like most industries today, Consumer Finance Services businesses are being significantly impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In response, Troutman Pepper 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 stay abreast of relevant activities, below find 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 October 16, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released Treasury International Capital data for August 2020, with the September 2020 report scheduled for November 17. U.S. residents increased their holdings of long-term foreign securities, with net purchases of $5.7 billion. For more information, click here.
- On October 16, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and White House Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought released the final budget results for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Year-end data from the September 2020 Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government show a $3.1 trillion the deficit for FY 2020 — $2.0 trillion higher than estimated ($1.1 trillion) in the FY 2021 budget published in February. The increase in the deficit from FY 2019 reflects the effect of COVID-19 on the economy. For more information, click here.
- On October 15, the Vice Chair for Supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve spoke about the lessons learned from COVID-19 stress on financial systems. These lessons include (1) several short-term funding markets proved fragile and needed support, (2) the Treasury market is not immune to the problems of short-term and dollar-funding markets, and (3) the regulatory framework for banks constructed after the global financial crisis held up well. For more information, click here.
- On October 13, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned consumers of scammers pretending to promise student loan debt relief. Due to the pandemic, people with federal student loans have some protections, but others claim to provide additional governmental protections for a fee. Check out the FTC’s video to learn how to spot these scams. To read the full warning, click here.
- A recently filed lawsuit places renewed scrutiny on the constitutionality of the nationwide residential eviction freeze enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. On September 18, an amended complaint was filed under Richard Lee Brown et al. v. Alex Azar et al. in the Northern District of Georgia, seeking to invalidate the CDC’s order that halted evictions across the country. For more information, click here.
- On October 17, Massachusetts’ Eviction and Mortgage Foreclosure Moratorium Act (EMFM Act) expired. The EMFM Act was an emergency law that restricted most evictions and foreclosure activities for a period of 120 days, or until 45 days after the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration was lifted, whichever occurred sooner. For more information, click here.
- On October 13, the Oregon Department of Revenue issued a temporary order to allow paper returns, statements, or document signing by fax due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. A facsimile signature is a signature visibly affixed to a paper return, using electronic or mechanical equipment or an electronic or mechanical device. For more information, click here.
- On October 12, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order finding the act authorizing the governor to issue executive orders “is incompatible with the Constitution of our state, and therefore, executive orders issued under that act are of no continuing legal effect.” House of Representatives and Senate v. Governor, No. 16197. In March 2020, the governor issued an emergency order, allowing the use of electronic signatures during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the court’s order, many legally binding documents executed through electronic signatures vs traditional notarization process have now come under scrutiny as to whether they remain in effect. For more information, click here.
Privacy and Cybersecurity Activities:
- On October 15, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Central Security Service (CSS) reminded U.S. Government employees of steps they could take to mitigate cyber threats while working from home. While the NSA’s notice was directed toward government employees, nongovernment employees also benefit, considering many still work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NSA reminds employees that they should:
- Update their computer software as soon as they see updates available.
- Install virus and spyware protection on all devices and perform regular scans.
- Navigate their email inbox with a questioning eye. Verify the email comes from a reputable source before they click the link in the message.
- Download collaboration service or video conferencing apps directly from the manufacturer’s website.
- Use a different password for each account and avoid using the same password they had five years ago. Change it up — add some numbers and special characters.
- Disable the feature that allows web browsers to remember passwords — instead, secure passwords in a password manager.
- When possible, employees should enable multi-factor authentication on sites they’re navigating and using to store documents and personal information.
- Enable automatic updates on web browsers and disable unsafe plug-ins or extensions.
To read the complete notice, click here.
For additional tips, check out our articles: “CISA Shares 5 Ways a Business’s Staff Could Reduce Their Cyber Risks” and “CISA Shares 5 Ways Business Leaders Could Reduce Their Organizations’ Cyber Risks.” Another great resource published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for securing devices at home and at work can be found here.
- On October 14, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers hosted an online conference, where Indiana Chief Privacy Officer Ted Cotterill encouraged states to adopt its privacy model to better respond to COVID-19 challenges. Cotterill’s office developed “policies and mechanisms that remove legal or technical reasons to decline data-sharing requests. Ensuring the relevant agencies were kept at the center of the decision-making process[.]” Sharing information with outside researchers brings challenges, but his office created the “Enhanced Research Environment, a data-sharing ‘sandbox’ built on Microsoft Azure that allows teams in various organizations to work together on projects without worrying about whether they’ll face a federal audit for their work.” A replay of the conference can be viewed here. To read CyberScoop’s report, click here.