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.
Our bank and loan servicing clients also face novel challenges affecting their industry due to COVID-19, particularly the ever-changing rules and regulations concerning evictions and foreclosures. We are closely tracking these updates and have assembled an interactive tracker containing state orders and guidance documents regarding residential foreclosure and eviction moratoriums. You may access this interactive tool at https://covid19.troutman.com/.
To help you keep 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:
- On December 22, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets released a report on money market funds. In March 2020, short-term funding markets came under sharp stress amid growing economic concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and an overall flight to liquidity and quality among investors. For more information, click here.
- On December 20, Congress passed a new COVID-19 aid bill that will extend the national moratorium on evictions through January 31, 2021. Located under Section 502, the new bill achieves its goal by extending the order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bill also establishes a $25 billion fund to assist qualifying renters struggling to keep up with their payments. For more information, click here.
- On December 23, in response to the surge of COVID cases in Maryland, Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera issued five new administrative orders, one of which requires the Judiciary’s Phase II operations plan to remain in effect through March 14, 2021. Another order extends the suspension of jury trials through April 23, 2021. Clerks’ offices in the District Court of Maryland and circuit courts throughout the state will remain open to the public for emergency purposes and by appointment for other matters. For more information, click here.
- On December 23, Washington D.C.’s Mayor Order 2020-127’s pause of certain activities went into effect and will last through January 15, 2021. Namely, “[n]on-essential businesses are required to telework, except in person staff needed to support minimum business operations.” The order also extends the state of emergency through March 31, 2021, which continues the prohibition against initiating a communication with a debtor through to May 31, 2021. For more information, click here.
- On December 22, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reminded consumers that scammers continue to deploy income scams that trick consumers into believing they can make a lot of money by buying into certain programs. For instance, an online operation promised consumers that they could profit in the stock market through a so-called “unique and proven” way during the current pandemic. Before paying for a program that promises fast cash, the FTC reminds consumers that:
- “Statistics and testimonials can be faked. Scammers want you to believe their program is always successful and low-risk[;]
- Scammers exaggerate the press of time. They want you to feel pressured to commit now without doing research on the offer[;]
- No one can guarantee a specific amount of return on an investment. Scammers might claim that you can make thousands of dollars per day or per month for life, but no one can actually guarantee that an investment will be successful.”
To read more, click here.
- On December 22, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a draft of the Trust Internet Connections (TIC) 3.0 Remote User Use Case (Use Case) for public comment. This new draft builds off of the TIC 3.0 Telework Guidance that defines “network and multi-boundary security guidance for agencies that allow users to work remotely.” Due to the current pandemic, this new draft is “designed to help agencies preserve security as they move away from traditional network scenarios in support of the maximized telework environment[.]” The Use Case describes the architecture and security capabilities for remote users as they begin to adopt mobile and cloud environments. To read the full draft in PDF format, click here. To read CISA’s announcement, click here.
- On December 21, the FTC released a new data analysis showing that “gift cards continue to be the most common form of payment when consumers report losing money to most scammers.” Often, scammers convince consumers to pay using gift cards for various scams, such as those acting as business and government imposters. The FTC reminds consumers that “[w]henever someone demands to be paid with a gift card, that’s a scam. Gift cards are for gifts, not for payment.” To read more, click here.
- On December 21, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) highlighted several of its key contributions throughout 2020. For instance, throughout the year, the NSA shared cybersecurity guidance and advisories to states looking to keep COVID-19 research protected, and it “helped teleworkers work from home safely, secure their home office, and even limit their mobile device exposure[.]” The NSA appears ready to continue its mission to provide timely, relevant, and actional information throughout the coming year. To read the full announcement, click here.
- On December 21, MIT Technology Review reported that there’s a rush to build systems to show individuals’ COVID-19 vaccination status. “Governments, airlines, employers, universities, and many other groups are intensely debating how and why people will need to show verified health records.” Due to the booming black market in fake test results, there appears to be an increased demand for cheat-proof digital documents. Developers are starting their initiatives to solve the fake-test-results problem, while also protecting other personally identifiable information. However, it is unclear whether such initiatives can provide an immediate and widespread solution. To read the full report, click here.