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 August 19, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a new Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data report on residential mortgage lending trends. The report found that the total number of closed-end originations and applications increased substantially between 2019 and 2020. Closed-end originations (excluding reverse mortgages) increased in 2020 by 65.2%, from 8.3 million in 2019 to 13.6 million in 2020. While mortgage activity generally increased, year over year, significant differences between demographic groups persisted, including higher interest rates and denials among Black and Hispanic consumers in the mortgage market. For more information, click here.
- On August 19, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued updated outlines regarding current tenant protections. “The sad reality is that too many Virginians across the Commonwealth continue to find themselves in tough financial situations because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and they may have a hard time making ends meet or paying their rent,” said Attorney General Herring. The outlined protections apply to residential tenants and include: (1) Virginia state protections which are effective through June 30, 2022; (2) Virginia’s Rent Relief Program; and (3) the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Department of Health and Human Services eviction protections through October 3. For more information, click here.
- On August 17, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed comments with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) in support of a “newly passed ‘bill of rights’ for Virginia student borrowers.” Attorney General Herring stated, “More than one million Virginians are saddled with the crippling weight of student loan debt – something that negatively affects almost every aspect of their lives… My office has worked hard to help student loan borrowers in the Commonwealth, especially in instances where the loan servicer has taken advantage of borrowers and acted deceptively.” In February of last year, the general assembly passed House Bill 10, under which the SCC “protects student borrowers from servicers who would, among other things, engage in unfair or deceptive conduct, misapply loan payments, or misreport information to credit bureaus.” For more information, click here.
- On August 18, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued a consumer alert regarding a cryptocurrency scam involving CoMed (a company providing electric service to 70% of Illinois). According to the alert, thieves have been claiming “to scare people into making wrongful cash or bitcoin payments that are nearly impossible to recover.” During the pandemic, cryptocurrency scams have skyrocketed with “nearly 3,500 imposter scams involving cryptocurrency between Oct. 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, totaling $64 million in reported losses.” For more information, click here.
- On August 20, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned consumers that they should not purchase fake COVID-19 verification tools or products from scammers, such as “fake vaccination cards, certificates, and test results.” The FTC advises individuals that they should:
- Know that buying fake vaccine cards, making your own, or filling in blank cards with false information could get them fined “or even land you in jail.”
- Not share personal information with potential scammers. Scammers may sell personal information to others or use that information to commit identity theft.
To learn more about the FTC’s warning, click here.
- On August 19, the FTC warned consumers that scammers are “impersonating FTC Chair Lina Khan in a new phishing scheme [that] says the FTC wants to send [individuals] coronavirus relief funds and tells [them] to send some personal information, like [their] name, address, and date of birth.” The FTC reminds consumers that it is “not distributing coronavirus economic stimulus or relief money to people.” Individuals who may have received a possible phishing scam pretending to be FTC Chair Khan have been informed to report the communication to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. To read the full announcement, click here.
- On August 18, NBC News reported that major software developers, such as Google, Apple, and Samsung, are working on quick response (QR) codes that hold COVID-19 vaccination proof on mobile devices. The codes would be stored locally on devices, which will allow individuals to show their vaccination records with a single touch. The report recognizes that privacy concerns still exist. It is unclear how software developers will protect individual privacy. For those interested in learning more about the privacy implications of vaccination certificates, check out Troutman Pepper’s Law360 article by clicking here.