Photo of Melanie Griffith

Melanie is an associate in the firm’s Consumer Financial Services Practice Group. Prior to joining the firm, she clerked for Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea on the Minnesota Supreme Court and was a civil division law clerk in the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office. She gained industry experience working at a credit union and a community bank before attending law school.

On May 28, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released its annual report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) detailing enforcement and educational activities undertaken in 2023. The report pertains to actions under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z, the Consumer Leasing Act (CLA) and Regulation M, and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) and Regulation E. Specifically, the report highlights FTC initiatives in areas such as automobile financing and leasing, electronic fund transfers, so-called junk fees, payday lending, and negative options.

As discussed here, in March 2023, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) proposed new regulations under the California Financing Law that would interpret the definition of “loan” to include “income-based advances” or earned wage access (EWA) products, except those offered by employers. The proposal also sought to require providers of such products to register with the state, and imposed requirements on debt settlement companies and education financing providers.

On February 12, ten Rhode Island senators introduced S 2275, a bill proposing to opt Rhode Island out of §§ 521-523 of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA). On February 13, HF 3680 was introduced in Minnesota, proposing to opt-out of DIDMCA expressly as to non-credit card forms of credit. These legislative efforts to opt-out of DIDMCA, coupled with the influx in recent “true lender” legislation, seem to show a coordinated effort to restrict bank-model lending.

We are pleased to share our annual review of regulatory and legal developments in the consumer financial services industry. With active federal and state legislatures, consumer financial services providers faced a challenging 2023. Courts across the country issued rulings that will have immediate and lasting impacts on the industry. Our team of more than 140 professionals has prepared this concise, yet thorough analysis of the most important issues and trends throughout our industry. We not only examined what happened in 2023, but also what to expect — and how to prepare — for the months ahead.

On January 9, SB 1146, entitled the Earned Wage Access Services Act, was introduced into the Florida Senate. The bill would require earned wage access (EWA) providers to register with the Florida Financial Services Commission. The bill also requires EWA providers to develop procedures for dealing with consumer questions and complaints, requires consumer notifications

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) released its 14th annual report to Congress in fulfillment of its requirements under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. For the report, the CFPB reviewed information available on college websites on the financial products offered directly to students or jointly marketed to students with third-party providers. According to the CFPB, its research showed that college-sponsored financial products have higher fees and less favorable terms and conditions compared to typical market products.

On March 1, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an issue spotlight highlighting concerns about prepaid card programs for accessing public assistance benefits. In particular, the spotlight notes “specific recurring issues” related to cash assistance benefits including Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and unemployment benefits that are provided on prepaid cards.

In a case involving the application of Regulation E (Reg. E) to certain prepaid cards, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) submitted an amicus brief arguing that the error resolution procedures in Reg. E apply to pandemic-related unemployment benefits that are issued via prepaid cards.

Reg. E, which implements the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA),