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. 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 July 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency extended their foreclosure-related eviction moratoria until September 30. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expired on July 31, after the Biden administration announced it would allow the eviction moratorium to expire and asked Congress to authorize an extension. For more information, click here and here.
- On July 30, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it is seeking individuals with a diverse set of expert insurance perspectives in life, property and casualty, and reinsurance issues to serve on its Insurance Policy Advisory Committee (IPAC). Established by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, IPAC consists of 21 members, who serve staggered three-year terms and bring professional backgrounds in insurance accounting, actuarial science, academia, insurance regulation, and policyholder advocacy. For more information, click here.
- On July 30, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that two final rules issued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act will take effect as planned, on November 30. The CFPB issued a proposal in April 2021 that, if finalized, would have extended the effective dates of Regulation F to January 29, 2022. The CFPB has now determined that such an extension is unnecessary. Following this announcement, the CFPB will publish a formal notice in the Federal Register withdrawing the April 2021 proposal. For more information, click here.
- On July 29, the CFPB and the Federal Housing Finance Agency published updated loan-level data for public use collected through the National Survey of Mortgage Originations. The data provides insights into borrowers’ experiences obtaining residential mortgages. For more information, click here.
- On July 29, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will send refund checks, totaling nearly $2.3 million, to people who lost money to credit card debt relief schemes. For more information, click here.
- On July 28, the CFPB released an online tool to help renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic easily find and apply for payment assistance for rent, utilities, and other expenses. The Rental Assistance Finder connects renters and landlords with the state and local programs distributing billions of dollars in federal assistance nationwide to help renters stay housed during the pandemic. For more information, click here.
- On July 27, the CFPB published an issue brief, showing that consumer applications for auto loans, new mortgages, and revolving credit cards had mostly returned to pre-pandemic levels by May 2021. Prime and near-prime consumers are driving this recovery as applications remain down from borrowers with subprime and deep subprime for all types of credit. For borrowers with superprime credit scores, applications are down for all types of credit but mortgages. For more information, click here.
- On July 23, the CFPB issued consumer advisory “Know Your Rights Under the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA).” The CFPB amended the SCRA to make it easier for servicemembers and veterans to terminate residential housing and automobile leases without penalty. The SCRA also advises servicemembers and veterans to perform the necessary due diligence before waiving their SCRA rights. For more information, click here.
- On August 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the CUNY Comeback Program, a plan to eliminate up to $125 million in unpaid debt for at least 50,000 students who attended CUNY and suffered financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, students who did not accrue unpaid tuition and fee balances during the period, but experienced financial hardship stemming from the pandemic, will receive relief in the form of enhanced Student Emergency Grants. For more information, click here.
- On July 29, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he joined a multistate amicus brief, advocating for the rights of federal student loan borrowers. According to the press release, the brief challenges “action taken by the Trump administration’s Department of Education that unlawfully repealed and replaced federal ‘borrower defense’ regulations.” Attorney General Herring stated, “The current, Trump-era Borrower Defense Rule does nothing to protect Virginia student loan borrowers and leaves them optionless if they are defrauded by a for-profit college.” For more information, click here.
- On July 26, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced Georgia’s top consumer complaints for 2020. The report, available here, listed as its top three complaints: (1) debt issues, (2) used car sales, and (3) price gouging/public health state of emergency. For more information, click here.
- On July 23, Washington, D.C.’s debt collection legislation was transmitted to Mayor Bowser for her signature. The legislation — the Protecting Consumers from Unjust Debt Collection Practices Emergency and Temporary Acts — would, among other obligations, (1) require debt collectors to provide itemized statements and account numbers for debts owed; (2) limit the information that can be provided about a consumer’s employers or family members; (3) increase statutory damages to $4,000 per harmed individual; and (4) limit debt collectors to three calls in a seven-day period. For more information, click here.
- On July 15, the Connecticut Department of Banking fined a collection agency, after finding it had allegedly operated without proper licensing for about seven years. The collection agency filed an application through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry with the state to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut. As part of the application process, the state conducted an investigation into the agency’s activities, which led to the Department of Banking’s finding. For more information, click here.
- On July 28, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an advisory, highlighting the top Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) that threaten actors use in 2021. CISA’s key findings, it shared, was that “four of the most targeted vulnerabilities in 2020 involved remote work, VPNs, or cloud-based technologies.” CISA states that many of the “VPN gateway devices remained unpatched during 2020, with the growth of remote work options due to the COVID-19 pandemic challenging the ability of organizations to conduct rigorous patch management.” To read the complete advisory, click here.
- On July 27, the FTC held PrivacyCon 2021 as an online event this year due to the pandemic. Topics covered algorithms, advertising, the Internet of Things (IoT), and COVID-19-related privacy matters. For additional information, click here.
- On July 26, The New York Times reported that the pandemic significantly increased the use of quick response (QR) codes at full-service U.S. restaurants, growing restaurants’ abilities to track individuals. The report describes that this tracking has “allowed some restaurants to build a database of their customers’ order histories and contact information.” For those interested in learning more, click here.