On February 17, the Federal Trade Commission sent a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau summarizing its law enforcement activities in 2015 addressing unlawful debt collection practices, as well as education, research and policy initiatives concerning debt collection. The information will assist the CFPB in preparing its annual report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. For more details and links to related documents, go to: https://www.ftc.gov/ news-events/press releases/2016/02/ftc-reports-2015-activitiescombat- illegal-debt-collection.
On February 10, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it provided its annual report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the FTC’s activities related to the enforcement of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. A copy of the press release and a link to the letter is available at: https://www.ftc.gov/reports/federal-trade-commission-enforcementactivities- under-equal-employment-opportunity-act.
On February 10, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a correction to supplementary information to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule in order to fix a typographical error regarding the application of tolerances to property insurance premiums, property taxes, homeowner’s association dues, condominium fees, and cooperative fees. For more information, visit: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/ FR-2016-02-10/pdf/2016-02630.pdf.
On February 8, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a proposed rule to revise the exemption for recreational vehicles that are not self-propelled from HUD’s Manufactured Housing Procedural and Enforcement Regulations. The proposed rule is based on a recommendation adopted by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee that would define a recreational vehicle as one built on a vehicular structure, not certified as a manufactured home, that is designed only for recreational use and not as a primary residence or for permanent occupancy, and built and certified in accordance with certain standards for recreational vehicles. HUD is proposing to adopt the MHCC’s recommendation, but with certain modifications. A copy of the press release and a link to the proposed rule is available at: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/ press_releases_media_advisories/2016/HUDNo_16-015.
On February 5, the Justice Department, along with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, CFPB, and the state attorneys general, announced an agreement with HSBC Bank USA NA and its affiliates to resolve allegations of deficient mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure practices. The settlement parallels the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement reached in February 2012 between the federal government, state attorneys general, and the five largest mortgage servicers, as well as the settlement reached in June 2014 between the same federal and state entities and SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. As part of the agreement, HSBC will provide approximately $370 million in relief directly to consumers, be bound by mortgage standards, and be subject to independent monitoring of its compliance with the agreement. In connection with the settlement, the Federal Reserve Board imposed a $131 million penalty against HSBC North America Holdings Inc. and HSBC Finance Corporation for similar deficiencies in their foreclosure processing and mortgage loan servicing. For further details, visit: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-departmentreaches-470-million-joint-state-federal-settlement-hsbc-addressmortgage.
In early February, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued four Mortgagee Letters of interest related to preservation and protection requirements and cost reimbursement procedures, timeframes for completing foreclosures and judicial foreclosure of FHA-insured home loans in the District of Columbia, and HUD’s regulatory requirement for mortgagees to utilize a loss mitigation option or initiate foreclosure within six months of the date of default, and providing additional guidance related to the Mortgagee Optional Election assignment for home equity conversion mortgages to protect a non-borrowing spouse’s ability to remain in property securing a HECM after the borrowing spouse dies. Mortgagee Letter 2016-02: http:// portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=16-02ml.pdf; Mortgagee Letter 2016-03: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/ documents/huddoc?id=16-03ml.pdf; Mortgagee Letter 2016-04: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=16-04ml.pdf; Mortgagee Letter 2016-05: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=16-05ml.pdf.
On February 3, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a new compliance bulletin reminding furnishers of their obligation under Regulation V (Fair Credit Reporting Act) to establish and implement reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of information furnished to consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”). The bulletin was issued in conjunction with a field hearing on access to checking accounts and the announcement of letters to a number of top banks encouraging them to offer “lower risk” checking accounts to consumers that may have had a prior negative history with handling accounts (such as overdrafts). In the bulletin, the CFPB notes its focus on the accuracy of information in consumer reports about banking history, past NSF activity, unpaid or outstanding bounced checks, overdrafts, involuntary account closures, and fraud. The Bureau also notes that its supervisory experience suggests that some financial institutions are not compliant with their obligations with regard to furnishing information to specialty CRAs. The bulletin emphasizes that a furnisher’s obligation to have policies and procedures that satisfy Regulation V’s requirement extends to information furnished to all types of CRAs, including the furnishing of deposit account information to specialty CRAs. The bulletin states that the Bureau will continue to monitor furnishers’ compliance with the Regulation V requirement to establish and implement reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of all furnished information. A copy of the news release and a link to the bulletin can be found at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-takes-stepsto-improve-checking-account-access/.