Consumer Financial Services Watch

News and developments related to consumer financial services, litigation, and enforcement.

 

1
FHA Insured Mortgages Require an Appraisal by a State Certified Appraiser
2
CFPB Now Accepting Mortgage Complaints from Consumers
3
The CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs Looks at the Lending Practices of For-Profit Colleges and Their Impact on Military Members
4
FHA: HUD Uses FAQs to Communicate Policy Changes
5
HUD’s Proposed Fair Lending Rule: Deadline for Comments
6
CFPB and Other Federal Banking Agencies Issue Joint Supervisory Statement Clarifying $10 Billion Asset Determination: Regulatory Uncertainty Remains
7
CFPB Proposes to Disclose Credit Card Complaint Data to the Public
8
CFPB to Provide Early Warning Notice of Potential Enforcement Actions
9
Risky Business: CFPB’s New Consumer Risk Assessment Process
10
CFPB Announces “Know Before You Owe” for Student Loans

FHA Insured Mortgages Require an Appraisal by a State Certified Appraiser

By: Nanci L. Weissgold

Effective December 23, 2011, HUD has finally amended its rules to coincide with its existing practice of allowing only state certified appraisers to conduct appraisals of properties securing an FHA insured mortgage. This means that state licensed appraisers or those with only the certification of a “nationally recognized professional organization” are now permitted on the FHA Appraiser Roster.

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CFPB Now Accepting Mortgage Complaints from Consumers

By: Kathryn M. Baugher

On December 1, 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began accepting mortgage complaints from consumers through the agency’s home page. This development follows the Bureau’s October announcement that it would be expanding the coverage of its consumer complaint portal to include products such as mortgages and student loans. Consumers have been able to submit credit card complaints through the Bureau’s web site since last July. Read More

The CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs Looks at the Lending Practices of For-Profit Colleges and Their Impact on Military Members

By: Rebecca Lobenherz

When servicemembers are discussed in relation to the consumer credit industry, the discussion usually centers on the protections to military homeowners and credit card holders under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”). While SCRA remains a concern of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”), recently the Office of Servicemember Affairs has been taking aim at a more unlikely target: student loans. The CFPB is looking into the recruiting practices of for-profit colleges to determine if for-profit colleges are exploiting servicemembers in order to evade a federal financial aid rule.
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FHA: HUD Uses FAQs to Communicate Policy Changes

By: Holly Spencer Bunting

Mortgagee Letters released by the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) appear to no longer be the final word on policy changes made by FHA and HUD related to FHA lending. Although FHA has maintained “FHA Frequently Asked Questions” on its website for some time, it only recently began to publish targeted Frequently Asked Questions in response to specific Mortgagee Letters and questions submitted by industry participants. Generally these FAQs reiterate the guidelines stated in Mortgagee Letters and define practical implications of implementation. However, with FHA’s most recent release of FAQs related to Mortgagee Letter 2011-34 and HUD’s October 25, 2011 Industry Call (“FAQs”), HUD has reversed its position on at least one issue (in lenders’ favor) and offered other guidance that is not clear from the plain language of Mortgagee Letter 2011-34.

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HUD’s Proposed Fair Lending Rule: Deadline for Comments

By: Melissa S. Malpass

On November 16, 2011 the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) released a proposed rule to establish that proof of intentional discrimination is not necessary to establish a violation of the Fair Housing Act, and that a violation may be established under a disparate impact approach. HUD’s proposal makes clear the intention of the agency to apply this new approach to lenders. In describing policies “that may have a disparate impact,” the proposal references: “mortgage pricing policies that give lenders or brokers discretion to impose additional charges or higher interest rates unrelated to a borrower’s creditworthiness” and “credit scoring overrides provided by a purchaser of loans.” Read More

CFPB and Other Federal Banking Agencies Issue Joint Supervisory Statement Clarifying $10 Billion Asset Determination: Regulatory Uncertainty Remains

By: Andrew Caplan* and Stephanie C. Robinson
*Mr. Caplan is not yet admitted to practice; admission to the NY Bar pending.

The Dodd-Frank Act gives the CFPB exclusive supervisory authority and primary enforcement authority of federal consumer financial protection laws over depository institutions with total assets greater than $10 billion and their affiliates (“Large Institutions”). Under Dodd-Frank, the federal banking agencies maintain supervisory and enforcement authority over other institutions with respect to federal consumer financial protection laws. On November 17, 2011, the federal banking agencies and the CFPB issued a joint supervisory statement delineating how and when these Agencies will determine the total assets of an insured depository institution or an insured credit union for purposes of their supervisory and enforcement responsibilities. This is because sections 1025 and 1026 Dodd-Frank, which establish the basic threshold regarding who will regulate whom, do not specify how and when an institution’s assets are assessed for purposes of determining “Large Institution” status. That task was left to the Agencies themselves to determine.

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CFPB Proposes to Disclose Credit Card Complaint Data to the Public

By: Stephanie C. Robinson

It is no secret that the CFPB is taking great interest in consumers’ complaints about credit cards. From day one, a “submit a credit card complaint” icon has held a prominent position on the agency’s home page, and CFPB representatives have talked about how credit card offers and terms are sometimes too complicated for consumers to understand.

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CFPB to Provide Early Warning Notice of Potential Enforcement Actions

By: Kathryn M. Baugher

On November 7, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unveiled a process designed to warn individuals and companies of possible enforcement actions against them. At its discretion, the Bureau may provide an Early Warning Notice and an opportunity to respond before deciding whether to pursue an enforcement action. This process is not required by law, however, and the CFPB may decide not to provide notice in certain cases, such as when the Bureau’s Office of Enforcement believes that prompt action is necessary. Read More

Risky Business: CFPB’s New Consumer Risk Assessment Process

By: David L. Beam, Rebecca Lobenherz, Stephanie C. Robinson

Those who have been concerned about the expansive powers of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or the “Bureau”) should ready themselves for the risk assessment reviews that the Bureau is about to initiate. The CFPB recently released the first edition of its Supervision and Examination Manual (“Examination Manual”), which provides an overview of the Bureau’s supervision planning process and details the Bureau’s examination procedures. A key component of the Examination Manual is the CFPB’s Consumer Risk Assessment process, which evaluates supervised entities based on the amount of risk their activities pose to consumers, identifies sources of risk, and assesses the quality of risk controls put in place by the supervised entities.

To view the complete alert online, click here.

CFPB Announces “Know Before You Owe” for Student Loans

By: Kathryn Baugher

The CFPB is expanding its “Know Before You Owe” initiative to cover student loans. Since “Know Before You Owe” began last May, the CFPB has asked the public for input on a variety of draft mortgage disclosure forms. Now the CFPB is working with the Department of Education to gather feedback on a sample financial aid offer form. The Department of Education, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act, plans to publish a model form that schools can use to communicate financial aid offers to students. Read More

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