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Banker's Toolbox, Inc., leaders in compliance solutions for financial institutions, announced the acquisition of Georgia-based MainStreet Technologies (MST). MST is an industry leader in the loan risk management space. This acquisition adds to a strong and growing portfolio of compliance-related solutions and will continue to enhance the value Banker's Toolbox brings to both their customers and the industry. (Read full press release here.)

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More foreclosure prevention actions logged by FHFA

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has released its Fourth Quarter 2018 Foreclosure Prevention Report, which shows that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed 41,062 foreclosure prevention actions in the fourth quarter of 2018, bringing the total number of foreclosure prevention actions to 4,283,836 since September 2008. The report also shows that 35 percent of loan modifications completed in the fourth quarter reduced borrowers' monthly payments by more than 20 percent. The serious delinquency rate dropped to 0.73 percent at the end of the fourth quarter. This compared with 3.8 percent for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, 2.0 percent for Veterans Affairs (VA) loans and 2.1 percent for all loans (industry average). Additionally, the Real Estate Owned inventory declined by 3 percent in the fourth quarter to 26,485 as property dispositions continued to outpace REO acquisitions.


FTC/CFPB report to Congress on combating illegal debt collection

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that the Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have submitted their annual report to Congress on their 2018 activities to combat illegal debt collection practices. The reports highlight both agencies’ efforts to stop unlawful debt collection practices, including robust law enforcement, education and public outreach, and policy initiatives.

In the report to Congress, the Bureau states its intent to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on debt collection that will address issues ranging from communication practices to consumer disclosures. The Bureau highlights in the report that it handled approximately 81,500 debt collection complaints related to first-party (creditors collecting on their own debts) and third-party collections. Debt collection is among the most prevalent topics of consumer complaints about financial products or services received by the Bureau.


LIBOR transition is focus of FDIC Insights

The Winter 2018 issue of FDIC Supervisory Insights features an article examining the future of, and alternatives to, the London Inter-bank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a popular reference rate for commercial loans, residential mortgages, derivatives and swaps, and other credit instruments. While LIBOR is often viewed as a reference rate used by larger financial institutions, it is also important to smaller community banks and savings institutions. Due to initiatives that could transition financial markets away from the use of LIBOR, this reference rate may not be available to financial institutions to use after 2021. “Transitions in Financial Instrument Reference Rates” discusses alternative reference rates and planning considerations for a potential change.

The issue also includes a "Regulatory and Supervisory Roundup" section, which provides an overview of recently released regulations and other items of interest.


SCOTUS: Foreclosure firms not debt collectors

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling Wednesday, declared that a law firm engaged to foreclose on a mortgage doesn't qualify as a debt collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, reports the Courthouse News Service.

The opinion, written by Justice Breyer for the court, says the language of the FDCPA "strongly suggests that security-interest enforcers do not fall within the scope of the primary definition." The ruling only affects state nonjudicial foreclosures. In a concurring opinion, Justice Sonya Sotomayor called it “a close case.” She also urged Congress to clarify the law if the court has “gotten it wrong.”

According to Courthouse New Service, Justice Sotomayor said the opinion focuses specifically on the kind of security-interest enforcement raised by the case. That does not give license to those pursuing nonjudicial foreclosures to make “repetitive nighttime phone calls.” Nor does it grant security-interest enforcers “blanket immunity” from the law, she said.


CFPB highlights servicemember complaints

The Bureau has released its 2018 Complaint Snapshot, with a national overview of servicemember complaints and complaint information by state. There were 33,984 complaints received in 2018, an increase of 12% over those received in 2017.

At the national level, the top five financial product complaints of servicemembers in 2018 matched those of non-servicemembers, with credit or consumer reporting at the top of the list (38% of all complaints), followed in order by debt collection, mortgage-related problems, credit cards, and checking or savings accounts. Within those products or services, the top issues reported were:

  • Credit or consumer reporting: Incorrect information on reports (54%)
  • Debt collection: Attempts to collect debts not owed (40%)
  • Mortgages: Trouble during payment process (45%)
  • Credit card: Problem with a purchase shown on statement (26%)
  • Checking or savings: Managing an account (58%)


OCC fines Citibank for Fair Housing violations

The OCC has issued a consent order and announced the assessment of a $25 million civil money penalty against Citibank, N.A., for violations of the Fair Housing Act. The OCC found that the bank had certain control weaknesses related to its Relationship Loan Pricing (RLP) program designed to provide eligible mortgage loan customers either a credit to closing costs or an interest rate reduction. As a result of those control weaknesses, some bank borrowers did not receive the RLP benefit for which they were eligible and were adversely affected on the basis of their race, color, national origin, or sex. For additional information, see "Citibank pays $25 million for Fair Housing violations," in BankersOnline's Penalties pages.


OCC permits closings in flood-affected areas

The OCC has issued a proclamation allowing national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks affected by severe flooding in the Central Plains and Midwest to close. OCC Bulletin 2012-28, “Supervisory Guidance on Natural Disasters and Other Emergency Conditions” (September 21, 2012), provides guidance on actions bankers could consider implementing when their bank or savings association operates or has customers in areas affected by a natural disaster or other emergency.


FEMA suspending communities from NFIP

FEMA published a final rule in today's Federal Register identifying communities in Alabama, Arkansas and Texas that are scheduled to be suspended on March 21, 2019, from the National Flood Insurance Program for non-compliance with the floodplain management requirements of the program:

  • AL: Adamsville, Albertville, Altoona, Birmingham, Blountsville, Boaz, Brookside, Cardiff, Center Point, Clay, Cleveland, Fultondale, Gardendale, Graysville, Highland Lake, Kimberly, Morris, Mountain Brook, Mulga, Pinson, Pleasant Grove, Rosa, Sardis City, Snead, Susan Moore, Sylvan Springs, Trussville, Walnut Grove, Warrior, West Jefferson, and unincorporated areas of Blount, Etowah, and Jefferson counties
  • AR: Atkins, Conway, Menifee, Morrilton, Oppelo, Plumerville, Ward, Wooster, and unincorporated areas of Faulkner and Lonoke counties
  • TX: Burleson, Edgecliff Village, Southlake, White Settlement, and unincorporated areas of Dallas County


Slight rise in industrial production

The Federal Reserve has posted G.17 industrial production industrial production and capacity utilization data, which indicate industrial production edged up 0.1 percent in February after decreasing 0.4 percent in January. Manufacturing production fell 0.4 percent in February for its second consecutive monthly decline. The index for utilities rose 3.7 percent, while the index for mining moved up 0.3 percent. At 109.7 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 3.5 percent higher in February than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector edged down 0.1 percentage point in February to 78.2 percent, a rate that is 1.6 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2018) average.


NMLS releases Mortgage Industry Report for 2018 Q4


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