Troutman Pepper Consumer Financial Services Team

As discussed here, on December 7, 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) made a preliminary conclusion that a New York commercial financing law was not preempted by the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The Bureau indicated it was also considering whether to make a preemption determination regarding similar state laws in California, Utah, and Virginia. On January 20, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta submitted a letter to the CFPB agreeing with its preliminary determination that California’s Commercial Financing Disclosures Law (CFDL) is not preempted by TILA because the CFDL only applies to commercial financing and not to consumer credit transactions within the scope of TILA. Attorney General Bonta further urged the CFPB to “revisit the Federal Reserve Board’s (Board) vague and overbroad articulation of the TILA preemption standard. The CFPB should articulate a narrower standard that emphasizes that preemption should be limited to situations where it is impossible to comply with both TILA and the state law or where the state law stands as an obstacle to the full purposes TILA, which is to provide consumers with full and meaningful disclosure of credit terms in consumer credit transactions.”

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich released opinion No. 22-(R22-011), concluding earned wage access (EWA) products that are fully non-recourse and no-interest are not “consumer lender loans” under Arizona law. Thus, those who make, procure, or advertise EWA products are not required to be licensed as a “consumer lender” by Arizona’s Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions. The AG’s findings apply to EWA providers working with an employer as well as those working directly with an employee.

On January 4, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that his office had reached settlements with Bellco and Canvas credit unions which will provide $4 million in refunds of unearned guaranteed automobile protection (GAP) premiums to consumers that the credit unions failed to provide previously. In June 2022, we posted here about the five prior settlements reached by the state AG over GAP refunds. Based on the AG’s comments in the press release, we expect continued scrutiny in this area. “When hardworking Coloradans pay for GAP coverage, they deserve to receive what they are owed … My office will continue to hold accountable companies that violate the law and leave Coloradans without the money they were due.”

On December 27, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (the Division) entered a consent order with Yellowstone Capital LLC (Yellowstone) and several related companies to resolve allegations that, in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the company engaged in abusive lending practices in connection with Merchant Cash Advances to small business owners (MCAs). Pursuant to the settlement, Yellowstone must forgive all outstanding balances for customers who entered MCAs, which is estimated to be approximately $21.7 million, and pay more than $5.6 million to the Division for purposes that may include, restitution, attorneys’ fees, costs of investigation and litigation and costs of administering restitution, and penalties up to $250,000. The order also imposes additional requirements regarding Yellowstone’s agreements and collections activity discussed below.