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Top Story Compliance Related


IRS reminder on special tax deduction for charitable donations

The IRS has posted a reminder that a special tax provision will allow more Americans to easily deduct up to $600 in donations to qualifying charities on their 2021 federal income tax return. Ordinarily, people who choose to take the standard deduction cannot claim a deduction for their charitable contributions. But a temporary law change now permits them to claim a limited deduction on their 2021 federal income tax returns for cash contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations.

Nearly nine in 10 taxpayers now take the standard deduction and could potentially qualify. Under this provision, individual tax filers, including married individuals filing separate returns, can claim a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made to qualifying charities during 2021. The maximum deduction is increased to $600 for married individuals filing joint returns. NOTE: Cash contributions include those made by check, credit card or debit card as well as amounts incurred by an individual for unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in connection with their volunteer services to a qualifying charitable organization. Cash contributions don't include the value of volunteer services, securities, household items or other property.


FDIC releases 65 CRA evaluations

The FDIC has released a list of 65 institutions examined for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act whose evaluations have recently been made public. Of those listed, one was determined to be in Substantial Noncompliance, two received ratings of Outstanding, and 62 received Satisfactory ratings.

We congratulate the two banks that received the Outstanding evaluation ratings:


OCC CRA evaluations released

The OCC has released a list of national banks and savings associations recently evaluated for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act whose evaluation reports were made public in October 2021.

Of the 15 evaluations made public last month, 9 are rated satisfactory, 5 are rated outstanding, and one is rated Substantial Noncompliance. We congratulate these five banks who received the outstanding ratings:


CFPB: More credit report disputes in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday announced its release of research finding that consumers in majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, as well as younger consumers and those with low credit scores, are far more likely to have disputes appear on their credit reports. The new research is a part of a series of reports focusing on trends in the consumer financial marketplace, and uses data on auto loan, student loan, and credit card accounts opened between 2012 and 2019.

The report shows that majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods continue to face significant challenges with credit records. In nearly every credit category reviewed, consumers residing in majority Black areas were more than twice as likely to have disputes appear on their credit reports compared to consumers residing in majority white areas. For auto loans, consumers in majority Black areas were more than three times as likely to have disputes appear on their credit reports (0.8% of accounts with disputes in majority white census tracts compared to 2.8% of accounts in majority Black census tracts).

The CFPB is committed to further researching the root causes of credit information disputes, as well as investigating the reasons for the demographic disparities found in the report.

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FTC returns nearly $60 million to Amazon drivers

On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced it had sent almost $60 million in checks and PayPal payments to drivers who had their tips illegally taken by Amazon.

From late 2016 through August 2019, Amazon had asked customers placing orders with Amazon Prime Now or AmazonFresh services how much they wanted to tip the courier, and told customers that "100 percent of the tips are passed on to your courier." But, according to the FTC's February 2, 2021 press release, Amazon pocketed much of those tips.

The FTC has sent over 139,000 checks and 1,620 PayPal payments totaling $59,600,593 to Amazon Flex drivers who had $5 or more taken from them. The largest payment is $28,255, and the average is $422.


New CFPB guide for family members of elders

The CFPB has issued a new guide, Preventing elder financial abuse: Guide for family and friends of people living in nursing homes and assisted living communities.

The guide walks through four steps to fighting elder financial abuse: Prevent, Recognize, Record, and Report. It lists red flags to watch for, shares some common scenarios, and includes resources that can be used to help loved ones.

The Bureau also released a quick reference handout on reporting elder financial abuse.


CFPB leadership changes announced

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced two leadership changes within the Bureau:

  • Lorelei Salas will be joining the CFPB as Assistant Director for Supervision Policy and will also serve as the Acting Assistant Director for Supervision Examinations.
  • Eric Halperin has joined the CFPB as Assistant Director for the Office of Enforcement.


California based Ponzi scheme managers charged

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it has charged BNZ, a Newport Beach, California-based company, and its co-founders and co-managers Brett Barber and Louis Zimmerle, for fraudulently raising $13.5 million from more than 100 retail investors.

According to the SEC's complaint, filed on October 28, 2021, since June 2019, BNZ, Barber, and Zimmerle have raised $13.5 million from retail investors by telling them BNZ was in the business of making investments in real estate and alternative investments and promising to pay investors significant returns, generally 10% per year. The complaint alleges that the defendants used only $6.4 million of the $13.5 million raised from investors to invest in real estate and alternative investments, and those investments generated just $300,000 in profits.

Despite generating minimal profits, the defendants allegedly paid investors returns of at least $1.7 million using funds raised from other investors in Ponzi-like fashion, and transferred over $1.6 million to Barber through his company, Guaranteed Income Solutions Inc., and over $700,000 to Zimmerle. The defendants are alleged to have made false and misleading statements to investors regarding, among other things, the source of the payment of the investor returns. In addition, Barber allegedly misled investors by touting his education in finance and his investment experience without also disclosing that he had been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority from affiliating with any member firm.


Fixed Income Clearing Corporation charged by SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that Fixed Income Clearing Corporation (FICC), a clearing agency, has agreed to pay an $8 million penalty to settle SEC charges that it failed to have adequate risk management policies within its Government Securities Division.

According to the SEC’s order, FICC acts as the sole registered clearing agency for transactions in U.S. government securities. FICC substitutes itself for both sides of every transaction that it clears, guaranteeing those transactions and making itself the buyer for every seller and the seller for every buyer. A failure by FICC to manage risk could result in significant costs not only to FICC and its participants, but also to other market participants or the broader U.S. financial system.

The SEC’s order finds that FICC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, violated the Covered Clearing Agency Standards promulgated by the SEC under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, FICC agreed to a censure and the $8 million penalty, as well as to cease and desist from future violations of the charged provisions. FICC also agreed to retain an independent compliance consultant to assess its compliance efforts.


FinCEN renews geographic targeting orders

FinCEN has announced the renewal of its Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs) that require U.S. title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used in all-cash purchases of residential real estate. The purchase amount threshold remains $300,000 for each covered metropolitan area. The terms of the order are effective beginning November 1, 2021, and ending on April 29, 2022. FinCEN said that GTOs continue to provide valuable data on the purchase of residential real estate by persons possibly involved in various illicit enterprises. Renewing the GTOs will further assist in tracking illicit funds and other criminal or illicit activity, as well as inform FinCEN’s future regulatory efforts in this sector.

The GTOs cover certain counties within these major U.S. metropolitan areas: Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle. The orders do not apply to banks or credit unions.

Related links:

Generic sample of GTOs


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