At a glanceWednesday, July 22, 2020

Collection Industry News At A Glance - July 22, 2020
Wednesday July 22, 2020
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CFPB to Host Symposium July 29

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) announced today that it will hold a symposium on the use of cost-benefit analysis in consumer financial protection regulation on July 29, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. The event will be webcast on the Bureau’s website.

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Weekly mortgage demand from homebuyers jumps even higher, up 19% annually

As temperatures soar this summer, homebuyer demand is heating up with it. Add that to an already strong refinance market, and total mortgage application volume rose 4.1% last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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Record Low Mortgage Rates Put More Cash In Pockets, But May Not Boost Economy Much

Sheera Talpaz, an assistant professor of literature at Oberlin College, has been teaching remotely, stuck indoors. So she figured having a place she could make her own would be good. And now she's found one and is buying her first house. "I'm really happy because I like the home," she says. "And I think I will just simply enjoy my day-to-day life more living in it." The timing was right. Interest rates just crossed a historic threshold. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan dropped below 3% last week for the first time since records began in 1971.

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Credit Unions Accelerate Modernization With FinTech Collabs

Credit unions continue to drive modernization efforts, often with a focus on their growing business member segment, and often with a FinTech as a co-pilot. This week’s look at bank-FinTech collaboration finds more credit unions embracing the collaboration trend to accelerate innovation, while a legacy financial institution turns the traditional bank-FinTech tie-up model on its head.

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Why coins are scarce and what government, banks are doing about it

Federal regulators and financial industry representatives are expected to release a set of recommendations in the coming weeks about how to jump-start the circulation of coins, which has slowed to a crawl during the coronavirus pandemic, according to two participants in the discussions.

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The Twitter Hack Shows a Major Cybersecurity Vulnerability: Employees

On Wednesday, Twitter fell victim to hackers who used a “coordinated social engineering attack” to compromise some of Twitter’s highest-profile accounts—including those belonging to Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Kanye West—to launch a crypto scam targeting those users’ followers. The scammers ended up with multiple accounts and more than $120,000 in untraceable Bitcoin payments—an amount that pales in comparison to the damage to Twitter’s brand.

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New Jersey Assembly Pre-Files A Debt Adjusters Bill For The 2020 Session

On July 2, 2020, New Jersey Assemblyman Mckeon, Assemblywoman Decroce, and Assemblywoman Quijano pre-filed for introduction in the 2020 Session, Assembly Bill, No. 2207, “[a]n Act concerning the licensing of debt adjusters and amending.” This bill would allow certain for-profit debt adjustment companies to conduct business in New Jersey, since, “[u]nder New Jersey’s current “debt adjusters law,” which is administered and enforced by the Department of Banking and Insurance, only nonprofit social service agencies and nonprofit consumer credit counseling agencies may operate debt adjustment services in the State.”

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Remitter International Inc today announced its expansion into the Canadian marketplace to bolster its presence across North America with strategic partner M&G Solutions. Remitter, ARM industry’s leader in AI powered digital contact solutions helps lenders and BPOs optimize customer engagement and maximize revenue. Rapid growth is expected as M&G Solutions leverages its strong relationships with Canadian companies in need of Remitter’s offering.  “The Remitter platform gives lenders digital scalability for their omnichannel contact solutions strategies, and gives consumers frictionless self service delivery; both demands that continue to increase” said Brad Bone. 

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Consumer Alert: Maryland District Court Resumes Debt Collection “Affidavit Judgment” Cases

Effective Monday, July 20, the District Court of Maryland once again started to hear debtcollection “affidavit judgment” cases. In an affidavit judgment case, a creditor provides the court with an affidavit showing how much is owed. If the consumer does not file a notice of intention to defend and fails to appear in court on the date of the hearing, the court can enter a judgment without a hearing.

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Court Rules in FTC’s Favor Against Student Debt Relief Scammers

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission in a case against the operators of a student loan debt relief scheme. The defendants are banned from telemarketing or providing debt relief services.

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TransUnion Enhances Document Verification Solution as New Research Finds Identity Fraud at Center of Many Digital COVID-19 Scams

New research from TransUnion’s (NYSE: TRU) Consumer Financial Hardship studies found that phishing is the top digital fraud scheme worldwide related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among consumers reporting being targeted with digital COVID-19 schemes globally, 27% said they were hit with pandemic-themed phishing scams. To help prevent identity fraud that can result from phishing, TransUnion announced today new enhancements to its Document Verification solution.

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Crown Asset Management Announces Promotion of Lisa Rozzelle to Relationship Manager

Crown Asset Management, a leading Accounts Receivable Management firm headquartered in Duluth, GA, announces the promotion of Lisa Rozzelle to the position of Relationship Manager. In this role, Ms. Rozzelle will provide the guidance, management, and oversight of ongoing relationships between Crown Asset Management and our agency and law firm partners. 

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The OCC Issues Proposed True Lender Rule that Should Clarify Online Lenders and Bank Relationships

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has proposed a rule that would determine when a national bank or federal savings association (bank) makes a loan and is the “true lender” in the context of a partnership between a bank and a third party – potentially an online lender. The proposed rule has been anticipated for several weeks following the selection of Brian Brooks as acting Comptroller of the Currency. Brooks has moved quickly to assert more clarity into the regulatory relationship regarding online lenders and Fintech in general.

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New AICPA tool automates PPP loan forgiveness process

A new, free tool developed by the AICPA and fintech lender Biz2Credit is designed to help borrowers and their CPA advisers complete the forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Available at, the dynamic platform automates the forgiveness process for small business owners who received funds from the PPP. The tool incorporates the PPP forgiveness calculator developed by the AICPA and is available to any business approved for a PPP loan, regardless of the lender it worked with to receive funding.

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Working from home poses cybersecurity challenges for businesses

SALEM — Offices across the state are reopening as coronavirus cases decline, but people, out of concern for their safety, are still opting to work from home. That poses a challenging problem for companies trying to keep their data and networks secure amid a remote workforce, according to Andy Sauer, director of cybersecurity at Steel Root, a cybersecurity and IT services company in Salem.  

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FCC Encourages Blocking of Illegal and Unwanted Robocalls

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2020—The Federal Communications Commission today adopted rules to further encourage phone companies to block illegal and unwanted robocalls before they reach consumers. To encourage the blocking of scam robocalls and maliciously spoofed  telemarketing campaigns, and continue the Commission’s implementation of the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, the rules offer companies two safe harbors from liability for the unintended or inadvertent blocking of wanted calls, thus  eliminating a concern that kept some companies from implementing robust robocall blocking  efforts.

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A bank is paying people to bring in their spare change to help local businesses amid the coin shortage

(CNN)A Wisconsin bank is bringing change to their community by helping local businesses struggling because of the nationwide shortage of coins caused by the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the Community State Bank launched a Coin Buy Back Program which offers a $5 bonus for every $100 worth of coins turned in to any of its seven locations. Anyone who brings by coins, whether they’re a bank customer or not, can receive up to a maximum coin bonus of $500.

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Fed expands Main Street Lending Program to more not-for-profits

The Federal Reserve Board announced Friday that it has modified the Main Street Lending Program to provide greater access to credit for not-for-profit organizations such as educational institutions, hospitals, and social service organizations.

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Consumer complaints to the CFPB are skyrocketing as the coronavirus outbreak continues

Americans filed a record-breaking number of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in March as the coronavirus pandemic started flooding hospitals and sending unemployment rates soaring. Every month since, consumer complaint numbers have been breaking record highs set the previous month, according to a Friday report from the consumer advocacy group U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group, a left-leaning think tank.

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Fraud concerns loom over move to forgive small business loans

The banking industry is pressing Congress to convert millions of emergency small business loans into grants with minimal paperwork — an idea that some lawmakers and watchdog groups warn could expose the government to massive fraud.

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Remote Oversight Training – July Sale from RMS

Resource Management Services, Inc. offers a July special on Collection Oversight Training.  Just in time for Consumer Financial Protection Week!  Just because you can't visit right now, doesn't mean you can't continue education and oversight.  Learn about Compliance Management Systems, Policies and Procedures and Third Party Collection Oversight with our special remote learning options.   The CFPB indicated that, even remotely - they will continue to promote their "culture of compliance" and maintain enforcement efforts. Collections was one of the five key areas mentioned in their recent webinar.  Learn tips and techniques for effective oversight - learn remotely, and get ideas for remote reviews.  Save 50% now, in honor of Consumer Financial Protection Week!  Use code: CFPW50

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Fraudulent Out-Of-State Debt Collectors Banned in North Dakota

BISMARCK, ND – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has issued three Cease & Desist Orders against fraudulent business operators who violated the state’s consumer fraud and debt collection laws. These out-of-state unlicensed debt collectors made harassing calls to North Dakota residents and used false statements, deceptive practices and even threats in their attempts to extort money.

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Attorney General Becerra Seeks Court Order to Immediately Block Education Secretary DeVos Rule Threatening K-12 Public School Pandemic Relief Funds

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel are today leading an expanded coalition of nine attorneys general and several local jurisdictions in seeking a preliminary injunction to immediately block U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ unlawful attempt to siphon pandemic relief funds away from K-12 public schools while litigation is ongoing. 

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CFPB Takes Action to Help Employers Develop Emergency Savings Programs to Boost Worker Financial Resilience

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) today announced that it issued a Compliance Assistance Statement of Terms Template (CAST Template) under its Compliance Assistance Sandbox (CAS) Policy to Build Commonwealth, Inc (Commonwealth). Employers interested in creating an automatic savings (Autosave) program as a way for employees to build emergency savings and increase their financial resiliency would then be able to use the CAST Template as the basis for an application to receive approval from the Bureau to create such a program.

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Attorney General James Renews Suspension of State Debt Collection for Fourth Time as Coronavirus Continues to Impact New Yorkers’ Wallets

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that the state will tomorrow again renew, for the fourth time, an order to halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the state of New York that has been specifically referred to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for collection for an additional 30-day period. In response to continuing financial impairments resulting from the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the OAG will renew orders again tomorrow, Friday, July 17, 2020 through Saturday, August 15, 2020.

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Big banks expose huge divide between Main Street and Wall Street

New York (CNN Business)The stark divide between Main Street and Wall Street is on display in the shifting fortunes of America’s big banks. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are minting money despite the turmoil in the real economy. These Wall Street-focused banks reported blockbuster second-quarter results by capitalizing on sizzling markets and bustling trading activity.

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Companies and executives that allegedly bilked student-loan borrowers out of $15.6 million will pay $103,000 in penalties

As consumers across the country worry about how they’ll afford next month’s bills amid the coronavirus pandemic, executives accused of bilking student-loan borrowers out of roughly $15.6 million are receiving leniency because of their financial circumstances. 

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Americans are rapidly shrinking their credit card debt during the pandemic

New York (CNN Business) Americans’ credit card debt is shrinking rapidly during the coronavirus recession. That’s a sharp contrast with the last two economic downturns. The amount of consumer revolving credit, which is mostly credit cards, plunged by another $24 billion in May, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. This costly form of debt is down more than $100 billion since hitting a record high in February and is now below $1 trillion for the first time in nearly three years.

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FTC returning $16 million to consumers duped into paying for bogus debt relief services

The Federal Trade Commission just got something of a victory in a years-long investigation involving companies that promised to help people lower payments and get out of debt - for a big up-front fee.

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CFPB launches investigation of Quicken Loans real estate affiliate

Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating its real estate affiliate for potential violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

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Making Them Pay: Supreme Court To Consider FTC’s Restitution Authority

On July 9, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would review the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to seek restitution in federal court for consumers who have been harmed by fraud and other misconduct in the marketplace. Just three weeks after the Court upheld the SEC’s authority to seek disgorgement of profits in civil enforcement proceedings, the Court agreed to take up a circuit split regarding the FTC’s authority to seek monetary relief under the Federal Trade Commission Act (the “Act”). Depending on the outcome, the Court’s decision could severely limit what the FTC considers one of its “most important and effective enforcement tools”1—upending its enforcement strategy in both consumer protection and competition cases.

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Convoke Launches Latest Software Update

ARLINGTON, Va.July 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Convoke, a leader in SaaS solutions for the debt collection market, today announced the most recent software update to its debt collections compliance and management hub. Each year, Convoke develops and releases several updates to its platform to support its clients’ evolving needs.

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FTC, Florida Attorney General Obtain Court Order Temporarily Halting Bogus Orlando-Based Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction Operation

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Office of the Attorney General, a federal court has temporarily halted an alleged sham credit card interest rate reduction operation that often targeted financially distressed consumers and older adults.

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CFPB files lawsuit against Chicago-based Townstone Financial for alleged discriminatory lending practices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Townstone Financial Inc., a Chicago-based nonbank retail-mortgage creditor. CFPB’s complaint alleges that Townstone violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and Regulation B by engaging in discriminatory mortgage-lending practices and that those violations also constituted violations of the CFPA, the Consumer Financial Protection Act.  

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Attorney General Becerra Files Suit Against Secretary DeVos and U.S. Department of Education for Unlawfully Repealing Critical “Borrower Defense” Regulations

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today led a coalition of 23 attorneys general in a lawsuit against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) challenging their action to unlawfully repeal and replace the 2016 “borrower defense” regulations. These Obama-era regulations established critical protections for student-borrowers who have been misled or defrauded by predatory schools by providing them an efficient pathway to get relief from their federal student loans, and creating robust deterrents for schools that engage in predatory conduct.

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