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 closely track these updates and have assembled an interactive tracker containing state orders and guidance documents regarding residential foreclosure and eviction moratoriums.
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 29, 2020, Federal Reserve extended the termination date of the Main Street Lending Program facilities to January 8, 2021, to allow more time to process and fund loans submitted to the Main Street lender portal on or before December 14, 2020. For more information, click here.
- On December 29, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service began delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans as part of the implementation of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. For more information, click here.
- On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the $900 billion spending and COVID-19 relief package — the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) — which President Trump signed on December 27, 2020. Although the CAA’s monetary relief provisions, aimed at helping individuals and small businesses stave off the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, took center stage, the CAA also included other headline-worthy legislation. Specifically, the CAA included the long-anticipated No Surprises Act (Act), which significantly impacts medical providers, payors, and patients. Effective 2022, the Act will prohibit billing patients for certain out-of-network medical expenses and instead will shift the burden of those expenses to payors and providers. The Act also will establish a dispute-resolution framework for disagreements between medical providers and payors over payment rates for out-of-network services. For more information, click here.
- On December 29, 2020, Polk County, Florida began accepting applications for residents seeking assistance with their rent or mortgage payments. The county plans to use the $2.5 million in remaining Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funds to assist people impacted by the pandemic that qualify for assistance. To qualify, the person must be a Polk County resident, have lost income, lost their job, or gotten sick with COVID. Qualifying residents may receive up to $5,000. For more information, click here.
- On December 29, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New Yorkers can begin using sick leave benefits under the state’s paid sick leave law starting January 1, 2021. The legislation secures paid sick leave for workers at medium and large businesses and paid or unpaid leave for those at small businesses, depending on the employer’s net income. More information can be found here.
- On December 28, 2020, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear renewed a previous executive order mandating that the CDC moratorium on evictions through January 31, 2021 apply in Kentucky. The CDC order, the tenant declaration required by the CDC order, and the governor’s order are all available online. For more information, click here.
- On December 28, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced all United Airlines customers traveling from London to Newark, N.J. will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no later than 72 hours prior to departure. For more information, click here.
- On December 28, 2020, New York Governor Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevent Act of 2020 preventing residential evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination, and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, click here.
- On December 27, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced new, temporary state benefits for 94,555 Washingtonians affected by the week-long lapse of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which expired on December 26, 2020, and renewed on December 27, 2020. Governor Inslee allocated $54 million to these payments, which total $550 per claimant. For more information, click here.
- On December 30, 2020, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey advised consumers about vaccine-related scams intended to exploit the pandemic. Healey warned that “scams have already begun to emerge, falsely promising early access to the vaccine, promoting disinformation, and presenting risks related to unsolicited offers asking for payment and personal information.” Healey shared several steps that consumers can take to avoid potential scams:
- Email-related scams: Consumers should beware of emails that request personal information or payment to register for COVID-19 vaccination.
- Phone-related scams: Consumers should be wary of calls claiming to originate from government agencies purporting access to a COVID-19 vaccine. For accurate COVID-19 vaccine updates, refer to the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
- Payment requests: Consumers should be vigilant when receiving unsolicited offers, asking to provide personal information or payment in exchange for early access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
To read more, click here.
- On December 29, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned consumers that scammers are targeting individuals strapped for cash and in need of work during this challenging pandemic. For instance, scammers offer individuals “up to $700 a week” for driving around their car advertising a well-known product, such as Marlboro or Purell. Before beginning, scammers provide consumers a fake check then ask them to submit personal information or payment to their “business partner.” Once consumers give the scammers the information requested, consumers never hear back from them again. The FTC offers tips to spot and avoid fake check scams. To read more about last week’s warning, click here.