Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau updated its process for designating a nonbank for supervision. Initially issued in 2013, the revised rule specifically establishes the CFPB’s procedures in determining whether a nonbank “poses risk to consumers” and is thus subject to the Bureau’s supervisory authority. The CFPB has had the authority to supervise such nonbanks since its creation. But it was not until 2022 that the CFPB announced that it would begin to use this so-called “dormant authority” to examine nonbanks. Last year, the CFPB initiated several supervisory-designation proceedings against nonbanks under that previously dormant authority, leading to the Bureau’s first-ever order in a contested matter establishing supervision over a nonbank. Continue Reading CFPB Updates Process to Designate Nonbanks for Supervision

On October 11, 2023, President Biden, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra announced the latest developments in the government’s efforts to tackle junk fees. Junk fees are hidden, surprise fees imposed on customers without clear disclosure.[1] The CFPB and FTC have taken several measures to crack down on junk fees since early 2022, including:

  • On January 26, 2022, the CFPB issued a request for information regarding fees that consumers believed to be covered by a baseline price, unexpected fees, and fees that seemed too high or unclear.[2]
  • On March 23, 2023, the FTC proposed a “click to cancel” provision requiring sellers to make it easier for consumers to cancel their recurring subscriptions and memberships.[3]
  • On June 22, 2022, the CFPB issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to address excessive credit-card late fees. [4] On February 1, 2023, the CPFB issued a proposed rule limiting and capping late fees.[5]
  • On June 29, 2022, the CFPB issued an advisory opinion affirming that “pay-to-pay” fees that are not authorized by the original loan violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). “Pay-to-pay” fees are those that are imposed on consumers who want to make a payment in a particular way.[6]
  • On July 23, 2022, the FTC proposed a rule to ban junk fees and bait-and-switch tactics for car buyers.[7]
  • On October 20, 2022, the FTC published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to crack down on junk fees, seeking comments on unnecessary charges, unavoidable charges, and surprise charges.[8]
  • On October 26, 2022, the CFPB issued guidance stating that imposing surprise bounced-check or overdraft fees are likely to be unfair and unlawful.[9]
  • On October 11, 2023, the CFPB published a Supervisory Highlights special edition covering junk fees in the areas of bank accounts, auto-loan servicing, and remittances that were identified during CFPB examinations between February and August 2023. The CFPB claims to have recovered and is refunding $140 million back to impacted customers.[10]

Earlier this week, the CFPB released an advisory opinion on fees related to consumers requesting information on products and services, and the FTC proposed a new rule banning hidden fees and bogus fees.Continue Reading The FTC and CFPB Announce New Rules to Tackle Junk Fees

Much has been written about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s recent “Policy Statement on Abusive Acts or Practices,”[1] in which the Bureau analyzed the prohibition on abusive conduct in the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (CFPA). In response to the statement’s publication in the Federal Register, comments were submitted by banks, credit unions, debt collectors, and others.[2] But the Bureau’s policy statement should be of particular interest to another class of persons: real-estate agents who participate in joint ventures with mortgage or title companies.Continue Reading Real-Estate Agents Who Participate in Joint Ventures Should Be Wary of the CFPB’s Recent Policy Statement on Abusive Conduct

On Oct. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded for reconsideration a district court order certifying a class of mortgage borrowers. The decision, which relies on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, provides further ammunition for the argument that all putative class members must

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s recent guidance on withholding transcripts from students with debts revealed that the CFPB is using a broad definition of “private education loan” that may apply to the practices of some not-for-profit schools. Additionally, while the CFPB characterized this practice as “abusive,” its analysis suggests that these practices may also be

On June 22, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Statement on Bank Secrecy Act Due Diligence for independent ATM owners and operators.  The purpose of the statement is to “provide clarity to banks on how to apply a risk-based approach to conducting customer due diligence (CDD) on independent Automated Teller Machine (ATM) owners or operators, consistent with the requirements set out in FinCEN’s 2016 CDD Rule.”

Under FinCEN’s 2016 CDD Rule, banks are required to establish and maintain written policies and procedures reasonably designed to identify and verify “beneficial owners of legal entity customers.”   This Rule extends to conducting CDD on independent ATM owners and operators who maintain bank accounts to supply cash for their ATMs and to settle the electronic funds transfers used to process ATM transactions.Continue Reading FinCEN Issues Statement on BSA Due Diligence for Independent ATM Owners and Operators

On June 3, 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  proposing public comment on the enactment of a no-action letter process.  This Advanced Notice follows FinCen’s Report to Congress submitted in June 2021 that was based on FinCen’s consultation with the Attorney General, State bank supervisors, State credit union supervisors, and other Federal agencies and regulators.  In its report, FinCen evaluated the difficulties it faces because of the overlap between its enforcement authority and other regulators.  FinCen also examined the benefits and concerns on how a no-action letter process could affect illicit finance risks.  FinCen stated that the primary benefits of a no-action letter process “are that it could promote a robust and productive dialogue with the public, spur innovation among financial institutions, and enhance the culture of compliance and transparency in the application and enforcement of BSA.”  Ultimately, FinCen concluded that it should establish a rulemaking to create a no-action letter process.
Continue Reading FinCEN Proposes No-Action Letter Process

Fintech lender Opportunity Financial (“OppFi”) and the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (“DFPI”), California’s financial-services regulator, filed dueling claims as they battle over state efforts to enjoin the company’s branded loans, which exceed California’s 36% interest-rate cap. This is the latest effort by fintech lenders to cement the True Lender Rule against state opposition.
Continue Reading Opportunity Financial’s Lawsuit Against California’s Financial-Services Regulator Signals Continued Fight Over “True Lender” Principles

Blockchain regulation continues to be the topic du jour, with increasing scrutiny from government agencies across the board. The latest comes from the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), which has been a leader in the space since the 2015 “BitLicense” framework under the New York Financial Services Law. On April 28, 2022, new DFS Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris issued fresh guidance encouraging cryptocurrency companies to adopt blockchain analytics tools as a best practice.
Continue Reading New York State Department of Financial Services Takes Aim at Blockchain Entities Circumventing Sanctions on Russia

Reflecting its determination to monitor the crypto markets, the Security and Exchange Commission has renamed the Cyber Unit the “Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit” and is nearly doubling its size from  30 to 50 members, according to a May 3 press release from the agency. The additional permanent positions will include investigative staff attorneys, trial