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Chris is the co-leader of the Consumer Financial Services Regulatory practice at the firm. He advises financial services institutions facing state and federal government investigations and examinations, counseling them on compliance issues including UDAP/UDAAP, credit reporting, debt collection, and fair lending, and defending them in individual and class action lawsuits brought by consumers and enforcement actions brought by government agencies.

In this episode of The Consumer Finance Podcast, Chris Willis is joined by Sheri Adler to discuss the implications of the upcoming change in securities law that shortens the settlement period for broker-dealer transactions from T+2 (two business days after the trade date) to T+1 (one business day after the trade date). This change, effective May 28, 2024, has significant implications for employers who offer equity-based compensation to their employees. Adler provides an overview of the history of the settlement cycle, the reasons behind the shift to T+1, and the impact on tax withholding obligations for equity awards. She also offers practical advice for companies to prepare for this change, including potential adjustments to the calculation of fair market value for withholding purposes.

Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) issued an “interpretive rule,” subjecting “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) transactions to provisions of Regulation Z applicable to “credit cards.” Among other things, this classification would require BNPL and other lenders to extend many of the same legal protections and rights to consumers that apply to traditional credit cards, including the rights to dispute charges and demand refunds for returned products, and, potentially, receive periodic statements. The Bureau claims its authority to issue this interpretive rule — in lieu of a formal rulemaking — stems from the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z, and its general authority to issue guidance as set forth in § 1022(b)(1) of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010.

In this episode of Payments Pros, Josh McBeain and Chris Willis discuss the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed rule on overdraft fees. The rule, which only applies to large financial institutions with assets over $10 billion, aims to regulate overdraft services by altering the definition of ‘finance charge,’ effectively subjecting these institutions to Regulation Z’s disclosure and substantive provisions. Chris and Josh delve into the complexities of the proposed rule, considering its potential implications and the likelihood of litigation challenges from the industry. They also discuss the role of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the concept of Chevron deference in this context.

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) filed a complaint against SoLo Funds, Inc., a fintech company operating a small-dollar, short-term lending platform. The CFPB alleges that SoLo Funds engaged in deceptive practices related to the total cost of loans, servicing, and collection of void and uncollectible loans in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) and engaged in providing consumer reports governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) but failed to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of those consumer reports.

As discussed here, yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited (CFSA) v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) holding that the CFPB’s special funding structure does not violate the appropriations clause of the Constitution. Wasting no time, today the CFPB filed notices of the CFSA decision in cases nationwide, including in the case where several trade associations are challenging the CFPB’s final rule under § 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act (Final Rule), Texas Bankers Association, et al. v. CFPB.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited (CFSA) v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) holding that the CFPB’s special funding structure does not violate the appropriations clause of the Constitution. The 7-2 majority held the Dodd-Frank Act, which provides the CFPB’s funding structure, satisfies the appropriations clause because it “authorizes the Bureau to draw public funds from a particular source — ‘the combined earnings of the Federal Reserve System’ — in an amount not exceeding an inflation-adjusted cap. And it specifies the objects for which the Bureau can use those funds — to ‘pay the expenses of the Bureau in carrying out its duties and responsibilities.’” The Supreme Court further found that the “Bureau’s funding mechanism [] fits comfortably within the historical appropriations practice …” Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the decision.

In this episode of The Consumer Finance Podcast, Chris Willis discusses the recent changes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) made to its rules for designating nonbanks subject to supervision due to potential risks to consumers. Willis provides a background on this authority granted to the CFPB by the Dodd-Frank Act and discusses the CFPB’s increased use of this authority in recent years. He also delves into the implications of the CFPB’s updated rules, emphasizing the need for nonbanks to prepare for potential supervision and to build robust compliance management systems. The episode provides valuable insights for nonbanks navigating the regulatory landscape and the potential for CFPB supervision.

On May 2, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released two sets of guidance addressing the applicability of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to two areas where, in the agency’s view, algorithmic processes and artificial intelligence (AI) pose particular concerns: tenant screening and advertising of housing opportunities through online platforms that use targeted ads. The purpose of HUD’s guidance is to make housing providers, tenant screening companies, advertisers, and online platforms aware that the FHA applies to tenant screening and housing advertising, including when algorithms and AI are used to perform those functions.

On May 10, a Texas federal court granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) from implementing the credit card late fee rule, most recently discussed here. The court found the plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success based on their reliance on the Fifth Circuit’s decision in CFPB v. Community Financial Services Association of America, Ltd. finding that the CFPB’s “double-insulated funding scheme is unconstitutional.” The court further found that the balance of interest test weighed in the plaintiffs’ favor because if the court denied the injunction, “[p]laintiffs face an enormous undertaking based upon a potentially unconstitutional rule,” whereas if the court granted the injunction “the CFPB is relatively unaffected because the Final Rule has not yet gone into effect.”

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) published an Issue Spotlight focusing on consumer complaints relating to credit card rewards programs. The report notes that credit card companies often focus marketing efforts on rewards, like cash back and travel, instead of on interest rates and fees. However, the CFPB has previously reported that consumers who carry debt from month to month earn just 27% of rewards at major credit card companies, while paying 94% of the interest and fees that those companies charged. In its analysis of several hundred complaints relating to these rewards programs, the Bureau identified four recurring themes: 1) vague or hidden promotional conditions; 2) devalued rewards; 3) customer service issues that delay or block reward redemption; and 4) issuers unilaterally revoking reward balances.