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Fed extends CAC membership application deadline

The Federal Reserve Board has extended until July 3, 2020, the application period for membership on the Community Advisory Council in order to provide additional opportunity for interested persons to submit their applications, which may have been delayed due to the ongoing challenges for households and businesses caused by the COVID-19 emergency.


Fed releases discount rate meeting minutes

The Federal Reserve Board has released the minutes of its interest rate meeting on April 29, 2020. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and the Board decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent, effective April 30, 2020. Consistent with the FOMC's decision to leave the target range for the federal funds rate unchanged, the Board approved maintaining the interest rate (0.10 percent) paid on required and excess reserve balances, effective April 30, 2020. The Board also approved the establishment of the interest rate on discounts and advances made under the primary credit program (the primary credit rate) at the existing level (0.25 percent).


House prices up in first quarter

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has reported that U.S. house prices rose in the first quarter of 2020, up 1.7 percent according to the FHFA House Price Index (HPI). House prices rose 5.7 percent from the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 0.1 percent from February.

  • House prices have risen for 35 consecutive quarters, or since September 2011.
  • House prices rose in 48 states and the District of Columbia between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020. The top five areas in annual appreciation were: 1) Idaho 12.6 percent; 2) Montana 10.2 percent; 3) Wyoming 9.9 percent; 4) Utah 9.0 percent; and 5) Hawaii 8.8 percent. The areas showing the lowest annual appreciation were: 1) West Virginia -2.1 percent; 2) Alaska -0.1 percent; 3) North Dakota 0.4 percent; 4) Illinois 2.5 percent; and 5) Connecticut 3.0 percent.
  • House prices rose in all the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. over the last four quarters. Annual price increases were greatest in Boise City, ID, where prices increased by 13.1 percent. Prices were weakest in Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI (MSAD), where they increased by 0.4 percent.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest four-quarter appreciation, posting an 8.0 percent gain between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020 and a 2.5 percent increase in the first quarter of 2020. Annual house price appreciation was weakest in the West South Central division, where prices rose by 4.3 percent between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020.

Trends in the Top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas are available through a newly-published interactive dashboard. The first tab displays rankings while the second tab offers charts.


FDIC extends comment period on Industrial Banks proposal

The FDIC is publishing in the May 27, 2020, Federal Register a notice extending to July 1, 2020, the end of the comment period on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled "Parent Companies of Industrial Banks and Industrial Loan Companies” proposing a rule that would require certain conditions and commitments for each deposit insurance application approval, non-objection to a change in control notice, and merger application approval that would result in an insured industrial bank or industrial loan company becoming, after the effective date of any final rule, a subsidiary of a company that is not subject to consolidated supervision by the Federal Reserve Board. The proposed rule also would require that before any industrial bank or industrial loan company may become a subsidiary of a company that is not subject to consolidated supervision by the Federal Reserve Board, such company and the industrial bank or industrial loan company must enter into one or more written agreements with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The comment period was originally scheduled to close June 1, 2020.


OCC okays bank meetings via phone and electronic participation

The OCC has issued Bulletin 2020-55 announcing an interim final rule that amends 12 CFR parts 5 and 7 to clarify that national banks and federal savings associations may permit telephonic and electronic participation at all board of directors, shareholder, and, as applicable, member meetings. The interim final rule, effective May 28, 2020:

  • permits banks to provide for telephonic or electronic participation of members and shareholders, as applicable, at both annual and special meetings.
  • requires banks that permit telephonic and electronic participation at member or shareholder meetings to have procedures for this remote participation and provides banks with a choice of procedures to follow based on elected state corporate governance procedures, the Delaware General Corporation Law, or the Model Business Corporation Act.
  • codifies an OCC interpretation that permits national banks to provide for telephonic or electronic participation at board of directors meetings.
  • updates OCC rules to clarify that all federal savings associations may provide for telephonic or electronic participation at board of directors meetings.

The amendments made by the interim final rule are permanent and will not expire after the COVID-19 emergency has ended. Comments on the rule are due by July 13, 2020.


FinCEN adjusts estimates of bank SAR costs

FinCEN has published a notice and request for comments [85 FR 31598] on a proposed renewal, without change, of its currently approved information collections relating to reports of suspicious transactions. Although no changes are proposed to the information collections themselves, the request for comments covers a proposed updated Paperwork Reduction Act burden estimate for the information collections. FinCEN has revised its burden estimate at the suggestion of the Office of Management and Budget. In its notice, FinCEN requests comments on its revised methodology for making the burden estimates. Comments must be filed by July 27, 2020.


OFAC sanctions senior Nicaraguan officials

On Friday, OFAC designated two senior Nicaraguan government officials, Julio Cesar Aviles Castillo and Ivan Adolfo Acosta Montalvan, for supporting the corrupt Ortega regime. As a result of Friday’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by such individuals are also blocked. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

For identification information, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.


Bureau issues NAL templates

On Friday, the CFPB announced that it issued two No-Action Letter (NAL) Templates under its innovation policies.

Using the first of those templates, which was requested by Brace Software, Inc., mortgage servicers seeking to assist struggling borrowers to avoid foreclosure and engage in loss mitigation efforts would be able to apply for their own NAL.

The second template, requested by the Bank Policy Institute (BPI), can be used by insured depository institutions to apply for a NAL covering their small-dollar credit products. The template includes important protections for consumers who seek small-dollar loan products.


SBA adds rules on PPP forgiveness and lender duties

Late Friday, the Small Business Administration released two interim final rules to supplement previously published interim final rules implementing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), in preparation for the processing of applications for loan forgiveness under the CARES Act.

The first of Friday's rules was issued to provide borrowers and lenders guidance on requirements governing the forgiveness of PPP loans. The second rule informs borrowers and lenders of SBA’s process for reviewing PPP loan applications and loan forgiveness applications, and supplements the interim final rule on Loan Forgiveness.


State-by-state EIP data

Treasury and the IRS have released updated state-by-state figures for Economic Impact Payments reflecting the opening weeks of the program.


Credit-repair telemarketers sued by CFPB and Massachusetts

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced it has jointly filed with Commonwealth of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey a lawsuit against Commonwealth Equity Group, LLC, which does business as Key Credit Repair, and Nikitas Tsoukales (also known as Nikitas Tsoukalis), Key Credit Repair’s president and owner.

As alleged in the complaint, from 2016 through 2019 alone, Key Credit Repair enrolled nearly 40,000 consumers nationwide, and since 2011, it collected at least $23 million in fees from consumers. The Bureau alleges that the defendants, in their telemarketing of credit-repair services, violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s prohibition against deceptive acts or practices and the Telemarketing Sales Rule’s prohibitions on deceptive and abusive telemarketing acts or practices.


Payday lender scheme stopped

A payday lender who deceptively overcharging consumers millions of dollars and withdrawing money repeatedly from consumers’ bank accounts without their permission has been halted by the Federal Trade Commission. A federal court entered a temporary restraining order halting the operation and freezing the defendants’ assets, at the FTC’s request.

According to the FTC's complaint, the 11 defendants, through Internet websites and telemarketing, and operating under the names Harvest Moon Financial, Gentle Breeze Online, and Green Stream Lending, used deceptive marketing tactics to convince consumers that their loans would be repaid in a fixed number of payments. In fact, in many instances, the FTC alleges, consumers found that long after the promised number of payments had been made, the defendants had applied their funds to finance charges only and were continuing to make regular finance-charge only withdrawals from their checking accounts. In addition, the FTC charges that the defendants failed to make required loan disclosures, made recurring withdrawals from consumers’ bank accounts without proper authorization, and illegally used remotely created checks.


SBA issues guidance on filing Form 1502

The Small Business Administration has issued a Procedural Notice on "Paycheck Protection Program Lender Processing Fee Payment and 1502 Reporting Process." Lenders must submit a Form 1502 report by the later of May 29 or 10 calendar days after final loan disbursement or cancellation.

  • Lenders will not be paid if the PPP loan is canceled before disbursement or if the loan was canceled or voluntarily terminated after funds were disbursed and repaid by May 18
  • The SBA will not pay processing fees for PPP loans canceled, terminated or repaid due to an SBA loan review finding the borrower ineligible
  • Lender processing fees may be clawed back within a year after disbursement if SBA later determines the borrower to be ineligible
  • Such a clawback for ineligibility will not affect the SBA guaranty for the loan, if the lender has complied with its obligations under section III.3.b of the initial PPP Interim Final Rule (What Do Lenders Have to Do in Terms of Loan Underwriting?)


Comptroller Otting to step down

Comptroller Otting has announced that he will step down from office on May 29, 2020. First Deputy Comptroller and Chief Operating Officer Brian P. Brooks will become Acting Comptroller of the Currency.


Zimbabwe sanctions regs amended

OFAC has amended the Zimbabwe Sanctions Regulations at 31 CFR 541 to remove a general license that authorizes all transactions involving Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe and Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe as a result of these entities being removed from OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.


Labor Department approves electronic disclosures of pension plans

The Employment Benefits Security Administration of the Department of Labor has approved and submitted for Federal Register publication on May 27, a final rule adopting a new, additional safe harbor for employee benefit plan administrators to use electronic media, as a default, to furnish information to participants and beneficiaries of plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The rule allows plan administrators who satisfy specified conditions to provide participants and beneficiaries with a notice that certain disclosures will be made available on a website, or to furnish disclosures via email.

Individuals who prefer to receive disclosures on paper can request paper copies of disclosures and opt out of electronic delivery entirely. The rule will become effective July 27, 2020. The rule was published 5/27/2020 at 85 FR 31884.


NCUA Board approves two measures

The National Credit Union Administration Board met yesterday and announced its unanimous approval of two items:

  • An interim final rule that makes two temporary changes to the agency’s prompt corrective action regulations providing relief to credit unions that temporarily fall below well capitalized.
  • A proposed rule that would provide an alternative method to satisfy the membership card or account signature card requirement


CFPB Complaint Bulletin

The CFPB has issued a Complaint Bulletin analyzing the complaints it has received during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bulletin shows that mortgage and credit card complaints top the list of complaints the Bureau has received that mention coronavirus or related terms. In April and May, the Bureau received historically higher complaints; however, complaints mentioning COVID-related terms amounted to 4,541 of more than 143,600 total complaints this year through April 30.


SEC amends financial disclosure rules

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it has voted to adopt amendments to its rules and forms to improve for investors the financial information about acquired or disposed businesses, facilitate more timely access to capital, and reduce the complexity and costs to prepare the disclosure. The amendments will update Commission rules which have not been comprehensively addressed since their adoption, some of them over 30 years ago.

The final rules, which affect SEC rules at 17 CFR parts 210, 230, 239, 240, 249, 270, and 274, will be effective January 1, 2021. Compliance will be required beginning with each registrant's fiscal year beginning on or after that date.


Regulators release principles for small dollar lending

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, NCUA, and OCC jointly issued principles for offering small-dollar loans in a responsible manner to meet financial institutions customers' short-term credit needs. The agencies issued the "Interagency Lending Principles for Offering Responsible Small-Dollar Loans" to encourage supervised banks, savings associations, and credit unions to offer responsible small-dollar loans to customers for consumer and small business purposes.


FOMC minutes

The minutes of the April 28-29, 2020 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) have been released.


Fed CRA evaluation ratings

Our monthly check of the Federal Reserve Board's listing of CRA evaluation ratings reveals that 14 ratings were made public in April. All of those ratings were Satisfactory, except for the evaluation of Eagle Bank, Bethesda, Maryland, whom we congratulate for its Outstanding rating.


CFPB extends comment period on FDCPA proposal

The CFPB has published [85 FR 30890] a notice that it is extending the comment period on its proposal to amend Regulation F, which implements the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), to require debt collectors to make certain disclosures when collecting time-barred debts. Comments will now be accepted through August 4, 2020.


OFAC sanctions senior Iranian officials for human rights abuses

Treasury announced Wednesday that OFAC had taken action against Iran’s Interior Minister for his role in serious human rights abuses against Iranians, as well as seven senior officials of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) and a provincial commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Yesterday’s action also targets the Bonyad Taavon NAJA, which is translated as LEF Cooperative Foundation, along with its director and members of the board of trustees. The LEF Cooperative Foundation is an economic collaborative controlled by the LEF and is active in Iran’s energy, construction, services, technology, and banking industries.

All property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. for identification information, see BankersOnline's OFAC Update.


SBA extends deadline again

The Small Business Administration has updated its PPP FAQ yet again, adding question 48 to indicate it has extended the deadline for lenders to file the initial SBA Form 1502 to the later of May 29, 2020, or 10 calendar days after disbursement or cancellation of the PPP loan. The FAQ doesn't say so, but the reason for the extension (from the current deadline of May 22) is that the SBA hasn't yet finalized and published Form 1502.

Starting April 15, 2020, the SBA and Treasury have issued 12 interim final rules implementing the Paycheck Protection Program:

  • 4/15/20: 85 FR 20811 - Adding the PPP to SBA's 7(a) Loan Program (SBA)
  • 4/15/20: 85 FR 20817 - Additional guidance regarding the application of certain affiliate rules (SBA)
  • 4/20/20: 85 FR 21747 - Additional PPP eligibility criteria and requirements for certain pledges of PPP loans.(SBA)
  • 4/28/20: 85 FR 23450 - Information on requirement for promissory notes, authorizations, affiliation and eligibility (SBA)
  • 4/30/20: 85 FR 23917 - Authority for lenders to use alternative criterion for calculating maximum loan amount (seasonal workers) (Treasury)
  • 5/04/20: 85 FR 26324 - Limits on PPP loans to corporate groups and guidance on non-bank lender participation (SBA)
  • 5/04/20: 85 FR 26321 - Requirements on disbursements (SBA)
  • 5/08/20: 85 FR 27287 - Nondiscrimination obligations and additional eligibility criteria (SBA)
  • 5/19/20: 85 FR 29845 - Extending the safe-harbor date by which certain borrowers must repay loans to 5/14/20 (SBA)
  • 5/19/20: 85 FR 29842 - Guidance on the ability to increase certain PPP loans (SBA)
  • 5/19/20: 85 FR 29847 - Guidance on additional eligibility requirements for electric cooperatives (SBA)
  • 5/21/20: 85 FR 30835 - Treatment of entities with foreign affiliates (SBA)


OCC finalizes CRA rule without FDIC and Fed

The OCC has announced its release of a final rule strengthening and modernizing the agency’s regulations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

The OCC reported it made several changes to its December 2019 proposal that respond to stakeholders’ comments, including:

  • Clarifying the importance of the quantity and quality of activities as well as their value.
  • Increasing credit for mortgage origination to promote availability of affordable housing in low- and moderate-income areas.
  • Clarifying credit for athletic facilities to ensure they benefit and support low- and moderate-income communities.
  • Deferring establishment of thresholds for grading banks’ CRA performance and delineating banks’ deposit-based assessment areas until the OCC assesses improved data required by the final rule.

The final CRA rule applies to national banks and savings associations, which, according to the OCC, conduct the majority of all CRA activity. The rule will become effective October 1, 2020, with a compliance date of January 1, 2023. Small and intermediate banks have until January 1, 2024, to comply with requirements involving assessment area, data collection and recordkeeping.

The FDIC, which had issued a proposal for CRA modernization jointly with the OCC in December 2019, issued a statement by Chairman Jelena McWilliams that the FDIC "is not prepared to finalize the CRA proposal at this time." The Federal Reserve Board has not issued a proposal to amend its current CRA regulations.


Re-proposed capital rule for Fannie and Freddie

The FHFA has announced that it is seeking comments on a notice of proposed rulemaking that establishes a new regulatory capital framework for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The proposed rule is an enhancement of the proposal published in July 2018. Comments will be due 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.


CFPB - how to use EIP debit card

The Bureau has posted an article answering common questions and providing tips on how to utilize an EIP prepaid debit card without paying extra fees.


Stimulus payments on prepaid debit cards

The Bureau has posted a link to a video informing consumers that they may receive their Economic Impact Payment (EIP) on a prepaid debit card starting this week. The payments, to provide relief from the economic results of the COVID-19 pandemic, are made possible by the CARES Act.

Approximately 4 million EIP debit cards are expected to be received in the mail this week. The cards can be used at Plus, Interlink and Star ATMs and anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.


Credit card debt and coronavirus relief

The CFPB has posted an article, "Credit card debt during coronavirus: Relief options and tips." The article is a guide to help consumers understand their options during the COVID-19 pandemic when they are unable to handle their credit card debt.


First Data settles with FTC for $40.2M

The Federal Trade Commission has announced that Atlanta-based First Data Merchant Services LLC — one of the biggest payment processing companies — and its former executive will pay more than $40.2 million to settle Commission charges that they knowingly processed payments and laundered, or assisted laundering of, credit card transactions for scams that targeted hundreds of thousands of consumers. A complaint filed by the FTC alleged First Data ignored repeated warnings from employees, banks, and others that Chi “Vincent” Ko, through his company that served as an independent sales agent (ISO) for First Data, was laundering, and First Data was assisting and facilitating laundering, payments for companies that were breaking the law over a number of years. Ko was later hired as an executive at First Data.


COVID-19 contact tracing text message scams

The Fderal Trade Commission has posted information regarding scams involving COVID-19 tracing, the process of identifying people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, instructing them to quarantine and monitoring their symptoms daily. Contact tracing plays a vital role in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19; however scammers pretending to be contact tracers are taking advantage of how the process works, and also are sending text messages. But theirs are spam text that ask the recipient to click a link which will download software onto the recipient's device, giving scammers access to personal and financial information.


Guidance issued on borrower eligibility for refi or purchase

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced yesterday that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) have issued temporary guidance regarding the eligibility of borrowers who are in forbearance, or have recently ended their forbearance, who wish to refinance or buy a new home. Borrowers are eligible to refinance or buy a new home if they are current on their mortgage (i.e. in forbearance but continued to make their mortgage payments or reinstated their mortgage). Borrowers are eligible to refinance or buy a new home three months after their forbearance ends and they have made three consecutive payments under their repayment plan, or payment deferral option or loan modification.

FHFA is also extending the Enterprises' previously announced ability to purchase single-family mortgages in forbearance. The Enterprises are now able to buy forborne loans, with note dates on or before June 30, 2020, as long as they are delivered to the Enterprises by August 31, 2020, and where only one mortgage payment has been missed. The previous policy was set to expire on May 31, 2020.


OFAC designates China-based Mahan Air sales agent

Treasury has announced that OFAC has designated China-based Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited for acting as a general sales agent for or on behalf of Iranian airline Mahan Air. Mahan Air is designated under counterterrorism authorities for providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), as well as under a counter proliferation authority that targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters.

As a result of yesterday’s action, all property and interests in property of Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. Identity information is available in BankersOnline's OFAC Update.


NCUA launches new Council

The NCUA has launched its new Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Council, whose mission is to build an organizational culture where shared values, beliefs, and behavioral norms around the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, engagement, and leadership align with the NCUA’s strategic priorities to optimize the agency’s performance. The council is comprised of 18 employees across the agency’s business lines in both supervisory and non-supervisory roles. Its first activity is an agency-wide survey to examine the NCUA’s current organizational culture and to identify areas for improvement.


Winners of FinCEN's BSA Awards program

FinCEN has announced the award recipients of the 2020 FinCEN Director’s Law Enforcement Awards Program who will be publicly identified in an official ceremony on October 29, 2020 in Washington, DC.

The annual program recognizes law enforcement agencies that used Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reporting to successfully pursue and prosecute criminal investigation in seven categories:

  • SAR Review Task Force - Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Significant Fraud - Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations
  • Cyber Threat - Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations
  • State and Local Enforcement - New York State Police
  • Third Party Money Launderers - Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation
  • Transnational Organized Crime - Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Transnational Security Threat Category - Federal Bureau of Investigation

The description of each investigation illustrates the key role of financial industry BSA filings in law enforcement's pursuit of criminals.


Commercial Bank Exam Manual updated

The Federal Reserve Board has posted an update of its Commercial Bank Examination Manual, which presents examination objectives and procedures that Federal Reserve System examiners follow in evaluating the safety and soundness of state member banks. The Manual is intended as guidance for planning and conducting bank examinations.


FinCEN advisory on COVID-19 medical scams

Yesterday, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued Advisory FIN-2020-A002 on Medical Scams Related to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), to alert financial institutions to rising medical scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This advisory contains red flags, descriptions of COVID-19 related medical scams, and information on reporting suspicious activity [insert "COVID-19 FIN-2020-A002" in field 2 (Financial Institution Note to FinCEN)]. This is the first of several advisories FinCEN intends to issue concerning financial crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FinCEN also issued a companion notice that provides detailed filing instructions for financial institutions, which will serve as a reference for future COVID-19 advisories.


IRS adding phone assistance for EIP questions

Yesterday, the IRS announced it has started adding 3,500 telephone operators to answer some of the most common questions about Economic Impact Payments. IRS telephone assistance and other services will remain limited, and answers for most of the common questions related to Economic Impact Payments are available on The IRS anticipates bringing back additional assisters as state and local advisories permit. Answers for most Economic Impact Payment questions are available on the automated message for people who call the phone number provided in the letter (Notice 1444) announcing that a stimulus payment has been sent. Those who need additional assistance at the conclusion of the message will have the option of talking to a telephone representative.


HUD announces 4th wave of CARES Act funding

HUD Secretary Carson announced yesterday nearly $77 million in a fourth wave of CARES Act funding, supporting up to 8,300 additional vouchers. Provided through HUD's Section 811 Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program, this wave of COVID-19 relief funds will provide affordable housing to non-elderly people living with disabilities.


Powell testimony on Fed response to COVID-19 challenges

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell discussed the extraordinary steps the Federal Reserve has taken to address the challenges the nation is facing. He noted the Federal Reserve's response to the economic upheaval brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has been guided by the Fed's mandate to promote maximum employment and stable prices for the American people, along with its responsibilities to promote stability of the financial system.


Free credit reports every week

The Federal Trade Commission has posted a blog article, "Credit Reports are now free, every week," reporting that the three national credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—will provide free weekly credit reports via the portal through April 2021. The Commission said that the three reporting agencies are making the free reports available to allow Americans who may be anxious about their financial well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Victims of online scam to receive refunds

The Federal Trade Commission has announced it is sending full refunds totaling more than $12 million to individuals who lost money to a company called "I Works," which operated deceptive “trial” memberships and bogus government-grant and money-making schemes in 2010. Utah-based I Works ran numerous online marketing campaigns, which falsely advertised that federal grants for personal needs were generally available to consumers, and that people who used I Works’ money-making product were likely to earn substantial income. The company unlawfully enrolled consumers in membership programs without disclosing, or without disclosing clearly, that it would charge their accounts on a recurring basis until consumers canceled.

The FTC is sending 147,333 refunds averaging $86 to victims of the I Works scheme.


Labor may allow OT exemption for commissioned loan officers

The Department of Labor has published a final rule at 85 FR 29867 in the May 19, 2020, Federal Register withdrawing the "partial list of establishments" with "no retail concept" and the "partial list of establishments" that "may be recognized as retail" for the purposes of determining whether a business may qualify for an exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime compensation requirement for certain commissioned employees employed by a retail or service establishment.

The elimination of the lists from Labor's regulations at 29 CFR 779 will promote consistent treatment when evaluating exemption claims by treating all businesses equally under the same standards. Banking and mortgage lending trade representatives have claimed the two lists have prevented mortgage lenders from applying for exemptions from the overtime requirement for mortgage loan officers who may earn more than half their income from commissions.


Consumer Guide on Mortgage Relief Options available

The Bureau and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) have released a Consumer Relief Guide with borrowers' rights to mortgage payment forbearance and foreclosure protection under the federal CARES Act.


SBA releases PPP loan forgiveness application

The Small Business Administration has released the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application that borrowers must complete in order to have their Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven. The form includes detailed information about the costs that are eligible for forgiveness and instructions for calculating those costs. The SBA said regulations and additional guidance for borrowers on completing the forgiveness form, as well as guidance for lenders detailing their responsibilities will be issued soon.


Supplementary leverage ratio temporarily changed

On Friday, the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC issued a joint press release announcing temporary changes to their supplementary leverage ratio rule. The temporary modifications will provide flexibility to certain depository institutions to expand their balance sheets in order to provide credit to households and businesses in light of the challenges arising from the coronavirus response. The interim final rule permits depository institutions to choose to exclude U.S. Treasury securities and deposits at Federal Reserve Banks from the calculation of the supplementary leverage ratio. If a depository institution does change its supplementary leverage ratio calculation, it will be required to request approval from its primary federal banking regulator before making capital distributions, such as paying dividends to its parent company, as long as the exclusion is in effect.

Comments on the interim final rule will be accepted for 45 days following publication of the rule in the Federal Register. The Federal Reserve Board also asked for comment on additional questions on the interim final rule.


Industrial production plummeted in April

The Federal Reserve has released G.17 Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization data for April 2020. Total industrial production fell 11.2 percent in April for its largest monthly drop in the 101-year history of the index, as the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic led many factories to slow or suspend operations throughout the month. Manufacturing output dropped 13.7 percent, its largest decline on record, as all major industries posted decreases. The output of motor vehicles and parts fell more than 70 percent; production elsewhere in manufacturing dropped 10.3 percent. The indexes for utilities and mining decreased 0.9 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. At 92.6 percent of its 2012 average, the level of total industrial production was 15.0 percent lower in April than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 8.3 percentage points to 64.9 percent in April, a rate that is 14.9 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2019) average and 1.8 percentage points below its all-time (since 1967) low set in 2009.


FRB Services lists updates on initiatives


Fannie and Freddie extend foreclosure and eviction moratorium

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Thursday that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) are extending their moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until at least June 30, 2020. The foreclosure moratorium applies to Enterprise-backed, single-family mortgages only. The current moratorium was set to expire on May 17.


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