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 January 28, Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) David Uejio issued a statement regarding the CFPB’s new priorities: (1) relief for consumers facing hardship due to COVID-19 pandemic; and (2) racial equity. The statement also discussed the CFPB’s supervision and enforcement tools for overseeing the companies responsible for assisting Americans with COVID-19 financial relief. For more information, click here.
- On January 28, the CFPB released a special edition of its Supervisor Highlights report, which includes information concerning various CFPB-regulated entities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the CFPB rescheduled many of the supervisory examinations, replacing them with prioritized assessments — higher-level inquiries than the traditional examinations. The information provided by the entities included how they worked with consumers impacted by the pandemic. For more information, click here.
- On January 27, the Federal Reserve Board issued a Federal Open Market Committee statement, discussing its tools to support the U.S. economy during the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting maximum employment and price stability. For more information, click here.
- On January 26, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that it would extend the deadline for borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages to request mortgage payment forbearance. The new deadline is March 31, 2021. Borrowers may obtain up to six months of an initial pause in their mortgage payments. For more information, click here.
- On January 21, the Federal Reserve Board approved reappointment of 12 Federal Reserve Bank presidents and 11 first vice presidents. Each individual has been approved to serve a new five-year term beginning on March 1. For more information, click here.
- On January 21, the CFPB issued its semi-annual report to Congress for the period of April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. For more information, click here.
- On January 21, Congresswoman and Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters announced the new assignments of House Financial Services Committee members for the 117th Congress. For more information, click here.
- On January 29, Maryland’s temporary emergency regulation allowing remote work for employees of state-regulated licensees — including debt collectors — was published in the Maryland Register. Maryland’s commissioner of financial regulation indicated that he will propose to establish these regulations on a permanent basis after seeking comments from the public. For more information, click here.
- On January 28, the Maryland commissioner of financial regulation issued an order continuing the temporary closure of the “Notice of Intent to Foreclose” electronic system until March 1, 2021. The notice through this system is the first step in initiating the majority of residential foreclosures in Maryland. For more information, click here.
- On January 28, New York City Division of Licensing extended the license expiration dates and renewal application deadlines covered by the mayor’s Emergency Executive Orders (EEO) 107 and 110. The extension applies to licenses with expiration dates on or after March 12, 2020. Once New York City issues a new mayoral EEO with guidance for renewing a business license, the new license expiration date will be 45 days from the date of that mayoral EEO. For more information, click here.
- On January 27, Nike announced it has agreed to provide California workers with “see-through masks” as part of a settlement to end class allegations that mandating masks “discriminates against people who are deaf or hard of hearing [because] they muffle sound[,] block visualization of the wearer’s mouth and facial expression, which people with hearing loss rely on to understand speech.” For more information, click here.
- On January 29, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reminded consumers that scammers are targeting them by saying they can provide consumers COVID-19 financial assistance. For instance, scammers are promising consumers legal help to avoid eviction but with a caveat to “give them money up front or hand over personal information[.]” The FTC reminds consumers:
- Never give your Social Security, bank account, credit card, or debit card number to anyone who contacts you.
- If you look online for help with your rent, search for the name of the groups you find, plus the words scam, fraud, or complaint to see what others are saying.
- Find out about local programs that offer rental assistance and other help.
- If you’re facing eviction, you still have rights and should seek legal help.
To read more, click here.
- On January 28, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) celebrated “Data Privacy Day” by offering consumers ways to protect themselves. While New York is still under COVID-19 restrictions, DFS reminded consumers there are several things consumers can do to stay safe in their personal lives and while working from home:
- Be wary of unsolicited emails and telephone calls asking for personal information;
- Secure your mobile devices;
- Be careful of Wi-Fi hotspots because they are not secure (anyone connected to the same network may be able to see what you are doing on your mobile device);
- Review your applications’ privacy policies to understand how developers are accessing your personal information;
- Be cautious about the information you share on social media;
- Use strong passwords;
- Vary your security questions; and
- Beware of phishing by avoiding links, files, and attachments from unknown senders.
To read more, click here.
- On January 28, the FTC announced it plans to launch “Identity Theft Awareness Week” on February 1-5. The week will include a series of events to help consumers take steps to “reduce their risk of identity theft and recovery if identity theft occurs” during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FTC shared that it will participate in several webinars and highlight certain events to help consumers protect their personal information. On February 1, the FTC experts will discuss identity theft during the pandemic, and a Facebook Live discussion will take place focusing on “COVID-19-related theft, current trends, and ways to protect yourself.” To read the full list of events, click here. To read the FTC’s announcement, click here.
- On January 28, the FTC celebrated “National Data Privacy Day” by informing consumers how to limit the ways they share information with others online and offline. The FTC highlights specific steps, such as:
- Performing an inventory on the types of applications collecting personal information on your devices;
- Checking privacy settings on all applications, devices, and online accounts periodically;
- Making sure that software and applications are up to date with security features; and
- Double checking the security of your home router to ensure that you’re using encryption to protect the information you share over the wireless network.
To read the announcement, click here.
- On January 27, the FTC warned consumers that scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 vaccination confusion. As many states struggle to meet distribution needs, consumers are facing vaccine-related scams throughout the country. The FTC warns consumers to:
- Contact trusted sources for information, such as state or local health departments;
- Never pay to sign up for the vaccine;
- Ignore sales ads for the COVID-19 vaccine;
- Watch for unexpected or unusual texts informing you to call a health care provider immediately to save a vaccination for them;
- Ignore emails, attachments, or links from unknown senders offering COVID-19 vaccination information; and
- Be careful of the personal information you’re sharing with people you don’t know.
For additional information, click here.