On October 5, the CFPB published its final rule (Rule) addressing payday loans, vehicle title loans, deposit advance products, and longer-term balloon loans (collectively, “covered loans”). The CFPB previously announced the proposed rule in June 2016 (covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert). The final rule makes it an abusive and unfair practice for lenders to make a covered short-term loan or covered longer-term balloon loan without determining upfront that the borrower has the ability to repay (known as the “full-payment test”). The full-payment test varies depending on the covered loan, but in essence, requires the lender to reasonably determine that the borrower can meet basic living expenses and major financial obligations and still afford their highest monthly payment(s). The Rule puts a limitation of three on the number of loans that can be made in quick succession (within 30 days of each other).

Lenders may avoid the requirement of a “full-payment test” with covered loans by offering small-dollar, short-term loans that allow the borrower to pay down the principal more gradually or are determined to pose less financial risk to the borrower. In addition, loans that meet the parameters of “payday alternative loans” authorized by the National Credit Union Administration are excluded, as are no-cost advances and wage advance programs that meet certain conditions, though the Rule does impose restrictions on using these exceptions based on the borrower’s loan history.

In addition to requirements surrounding the borrower’s ability to repay, the CFPB also finalized rules regarding payment withdrawals and reporting requirements. The Rule prevents lenders from attempting to withdraw a payment from a borrower’s account after two consecutive withdrawal attempts have failed, unless the borrower has given specific authorization to do so. This restriction applies to covered loans as well as longer-term loans with account access and an APR above 36 percent. The Rule requires lenders to use Bureau-registered credit reporting systems to report and obtain information about loans made under the full-payment test or the principal payoff option.

The provision regarding the registration information systems takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The rest of the Rule takes effect 21 months after publication in the Federal Register.