Regulation

OLA CEO Mary Jackson: Colorado True Lender Bad for Borrowers

September 21, 2020
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ColoradoLast month, the Colorado Attorney General’s office announced a settlement with Avant and Marlette Funding, setting a precedent for how “true lender” cases will be handled. The fintech lenders and their partners are free to lend in the state, subject to a lot of restrictions, as long as they stick below the 36% APR level.

Some touted the decision as a safeguard for fintech bank partnerships. Still, many, like those represented in the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA)- saw misplaced regulation that harms borrowers more than it helps.

Mary Jackson, CEO of OLA, said that while well-meaning, the 36% rule arbitrarily limits the ability for non-prime credit customers to get a loan at all. The limit draws an arbitrary line in the sand, based on an outdated centuries-old lending system, and doesn’t describe loans that last shorter than a year very well, Jackson said.

“What it did was drive out all the lenders,” Jackson said. “Non-prime consumers have fewer choices. They have to go and be subject to fraud or more unscrupulous lenders, or they have to go back to overdraft as another option.”

Jackson represents a group of lenders that offer online services, which regularly partner with banks to provide loans nationwide at higher APR rates than some states allow. Jackson said these are not fintech “rent-a-bank” cases to skirt state regulations, but natural partnerships that enable larger institutions to gain the tech and talent of leading tech companies to reach a greater customer base.

“Big banks cannot keep up with the technology that fintech providers have developed,” Jackson said. “A key US bank has a lot of data scientists that they employ, but if you’re a regional or smaller bank, you don’t have that capability: it’s nearly impossible to drive an IT team as a banker.”

Mary Jackson
Mary Jackson, CEO, Online Lenders Alliance

Jackson said that when her firm Cash America, that offered storefront cash advances, was bought by online lender CashNetUSA, she saw the differences between in-person transactions and the IT teams necessary for online lending. “It’s like two different worlds, two different ways of looking at something.”

“Our lenders are sophisticated like Enova, Elevate, CURO, Access Financial,” Jackson said. “These are companies that employ hundreds of data scientists that compete for jobs with Google in Chicago and a small regional bank can’t keep up.”

Fintech talent is helping to reach the 42% of Americans that have non-prime credit scores- FICO scores below 680, according to the Domestic Policy Caucus. 

Jackson said these customers, many of whom can pay for loans, have almost no options. Jackson sees many of her partner companies offering a “pathway to prime” service, empowering customers to rehabilitate their credit.

“Most of these people are non-banking customers, these folks have damaged or thin file credit,” Jackson said. “Most banks don’t service that customer, except for overdraft- a 35$ fee for lack of money in their account- I think bankers want to be able to offer longer-term installment loans.”

Jackson said research backs up her claims, pointing to a 2018 US Treasury report that discussed how banks would have to rely on fintech partnerships to innovate and drive product change. That’s what is finally happening, Jackson said. 

She also pointed to a 2017 study into the effects of the 2006 Military Lending Act. The act intended to protect military families from lending products with an APR above 36%. The study out of West Point found that the limit only hurt military members, some of which lost their security clearances when their credit fell too low. 

“We find virtually no statistically or economically significant evidence of any adverse effects of payday lending access on credit and labor outcomes. In a few cases, we find suggestive evidence of the positive impacts of access. For example, our second survey suggests that a 1 standard deviation increase in the fraction of time spent in a payday loan access state decreases the probability of being involuntarily separated from the Army by 10%”

Not only was there no harm done, but the paper argues on behalf of payday lending as a healthy way to maintain the credit necessary to keep a military job.

She sees similarities in the legal fight over the creation of interstate credit card laws in the 50s and 60s, saying it used to be the case that consumers had to use a texas-based or California based card. The country had to decide how interstate credit worked then, and with the induction of new technology to loans today, the same question is being asked.

The majority of Jackson’s clients offer products above the 36% limit, in the 100 to 175% APR range. She said that looks high, but consumers are looking at it on a monthly basis, and most of them pay it off early.

“These fintech partnerships allow the bank to offer one rate to everybody across the United States,” Jackson said. “We feel that really adds more democracy to credit, making sure that those who’ve been left out of banking have a shot at it.”

Section 1071 is Back and The CFPB Wants to Know How Much It Will Cost You to Comply

August 25, 2020
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CFPB LogoAt some point in this century, small business finance companies will be expected to comply with Section 1071 of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was passed in 2010.

In the wake of the ’08-’09 financial crisis (remember that?!), lawmakers passed the above act that has become colloquially known as Dodd-Frank. Section 1071 gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the authority and the mandate to collect data from small business lenders (and similar companies).

The costs, risks, and challenges with rolling out this law have been discussed on deBanked for 5 years, yet little progress has been made to finally implement it. But it’s starting to move along and the CFPB would now like to know how expensive it will be for businesses to comply.

If you are engaged in small business finance, you should seriously consider submitting a response to their survey. The CFPB is specifically cataloging responses from merchant cash advance companies, fintech lenders, and equipment financiers.

You can start the survey here.

“A Bad Solution in Search of a Problem”: SBFA’s Response to the New York Disclosure Bill

August 6, 2020
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One Commerce Plaza, Albany, NY“It’s actually shocking to me how tone deaf those who claim to represent our industry are when it comes to policy,” is how Steve Denis, Executive Director of the Small Business Finance Association, described the Innovative Lending Platform Association’s response to and influence over the drafting of bill A10118A/S5470B. Known as New York’s APR disclosure bill, S5470B has been passed by the state legislature, and if signed by Governor Cuomo, will require small business financing contracts to disclose the annual percentage rate as well as other uniform disclosures.

Speaking to deBanked over the phone, Denis expressed disappointment with both the bill as well as comments made by ILPA’s CEO, Scott Stewart, in a recent article.

“Small businesses in New York are struggling right now,” the Director noted. “They’re waking up every single day wondering if they should even stay open or close permanently, and companies and organizations in our space are using their resources to push a disclosure bill that nobody has asked for. There’s no widespread issue with disclosure. There’s been no outpouring of complaints to regulators. No bad reviews on Trustpilot. This is a really bad solution in search of a problem. We have real problems right now, we should be coming together as an industry to help solve them. We want to make sure that capital is available to small businesses on the other side of this pandemic, and this group of tone deaf companies are spending resources trying to push a meaningless disclosure bill that’s just going to hurt the access to capital for real small businesses who are grinding and trying to figure out how to stay open. It’s unbelievable.”

“I THINK THAT COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS THAT SUPPORT THIS LEGISLATION DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT’S ACTUALLY IN THE BILL”

The SBFA showed deBanked a list of issues and complaints made to the New York legislature regarding S5470B. According to the trade group, these were largely ignored and the bill was pushed through with the issues left in. Among these were problems relating to definitions and terms. No definition for the application process is included, nor is there one for a finance charge. As well as this, one senator was quoted using the term “double dipping” to refer to consumers refinancing debts that have prepayment penalties; which Denis said was “creating a whole new term that’s never been used or defined before, and applying it to commercial finance, something that’s never been done.”

Accompanying these complaints was one regarding how APR is calculated, as S5470B includes two different calculations for this, producing different results while not clearly defining when to use each.

NY State CapitolWhen asked why he believes these issues were allowed to remain in the language of the bill, Denis was baffled.

“I think that the companies and organizations that support this legislation don’t fully understand what’s actually in the bill. […] They have no problem pounding the table and taking credit for its passage, but I guess they don’t realize it will subject them and the rest of the alternative finance industry to massive liability, massive fines—upwards of billions of dollars worth of fines.”

Denis’s fear going forward is that funders in New York will tighten up their channels going forward or cease funding entirely, given the increased riskiness of funding under the terms of S5470B if Cuomo signs it into law. Before that happens though, the Director mentioned that he believes there will be legal challenges to the bill in the future, saying that its wording is just too unclear and poorly drafted. Adding to this, Denis said that he believes many members of New York’s state government are aware that this bill is imperfect and were comfortable with the thought of it being edited once passed. Looking forward, Denis wants the SBFA to be deeply involved in those edits, saying that they’re willing to work with the Governor, the state assembly, and the New York Department of Financial Services.

“We’re for disclosure, we think there should be standard disclosure. … Our message to the Governor’s office is ‘Let’s take a step back.’ The Department of Financial Services needs to look at our industry, they need to get to know our industry. They are the experts that understand the space, they understand disclosure, and they understand what they need to do to bring responsible lending to New Yorkers. And we would like to work with the NYDFS and a broader industry to put forward a bill that’s led by the Governor and the Governor’s office that brings meaningful disclosure and meaningful safeguards to this industry.”

FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra on Merchant Cash Advances

August 3, 2020
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United States Federal Trade Commission

Following recent lawsuits filed by the FTC, Commissioner Rohit Chopra made the following statements earlier today in an announcement about merchant cash advances:

As the Commission proceeds into litigation in these matters and further studies this market, I hope that we will uncover additional information about business practices in this opaque industry. In particular, we should closely scrutinize the marketing claim that these payday-style products are “flexible,” with payments contingent on the credit card receivables of a small business. In reality, this structure may be a sham, since many of these products require fixed daily payments, and lenders can file “confessions of judgment” upon any slowdown in payments, with no notice or due process for borrowers.

This raises serious questions as to whether these “merchant cash advance” products are actually closed-end installment loans, subject to federal and state protections including anti-discrimination laws, such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and usury caps. The stakes are high for millions of small businesses.

New York State Legislature Passes Law That Requires APR Disclosure On Small Business Finance Contracts (Even If They’re Not Loans)

July 24, 2020
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Albany CapitolFactoring companies and merchant cash advance providers may be in for a rude awakening in New York. The legislature there, in a matter of days, has rammed through a new law that requires APRs and other uniform disclosures be presented on commercial finance contracts… even if the agreements are not loans and even if one cannot be mathematically ascertained.

The law also makes New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) the overseer and regulatory authority of all such finance agreements. DFS can impose penalties for violations of the law, the language says.

The bill was passed through so quickly that unusual jargon remained in the final version, increasing the likelihood that there will be confusion during the roll-out. One such issue raised is the requirement that a capital provider disclose whether or not there is any “double dipping” going on in the transaction. The term led to a rather interesting debate on the Senate Floor where Senator George Borrello expounded that double dipping might be well understood at a party where potato chips are available but that it did not formally exist in finance and made little sense to have it written into law.

The bill, originally introduced in May 2019, resurfaced in March of this year just as the Governor was issuing shut-down orders throughout the state. It, along with many other bills, then went into hibernation. It was brought back to life on July 10th and hurried through the committee process to be made available just in time for a floor vote this week before the legislative session closed for the rest of the year. It passed. All that is required now is the Governor’s signature.

Senator Kevin Thomas, the senate sponsor of the bill, admitted that there was opposition to the “technicalities” of it by some industry groups like the Small Business Finance Association and that PayPal was one such particular company that had opposed it on that basis. Senator Borello raised the concern that a similar law had already been passed in California and that even with all of their best minds, the state regulatory authorities had been unable to come up with a mutually agreed upon way to calculate APR for products in which there is no absolute time-frame. Thomas, acknowledging that, hoped that DFS would be able to come up with their own math.

APR as defined under Federal “Regulation Z”, which the New York law points to for its definition, does not permit any room for imprecision. The issue calls to mind a consent order that an online consumer lender (LendUp) entered into with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2016 after the agency accused the lender of understating its APR by only 1/10th of 1%. The penalty to LendUp was $1.8 million.

Providers of small business loans, MCAs, factoring and other types of commercial financing in New York would probably be well advised to consult an attorney for a legal analysis and plan of action for compliance with this law. The governor still needs to sign the bill and New York’s DFS still has to prepare for its new oversight role.

Passage of the law was celebrated by Funding Circle on social media and retweeted by Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski who sponsored the bill. The Responsible Business Lending Coalition simultaneously published a statement.

WATCH: NY State Senate Banking Committee Debates The Commercial Finance Disclosure Bill

July 22, 2020
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The New York State Commercial Finance Disclosure Bill passed through the senate banking committee yesterday, but not until some debate over the merits of it took place. You can watch the full discussion by the Senate Banking Committee below:

New York State Legislators Resume Push of Commercial Finance Disclosure Bill

July 17, 2020
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A bill (A10118A / S5470B) intended to create uniform disclosures for comparison purposes while also placing control of the commercial finance industry under the purview of the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, is moving forward.

The March 2020 initiative was picked back up this week by members of the Assembly where it passed the banking committee and codes committee on a unanimous and bipartisan basis.

“When enacted, this bill will become the strongest commercial lending disclosure law in the country that covers all commercial financing products,” wrote Ryan Metcalf, Head of US Regulatory Affairs and Social Impact at Funding Circle, on LinkedIn. “It includes strong provisions that ensures enforcement and eliminates loopholes that will prevent gaming & abuse, & requires APR to be disclosed for all products.”

Metcalf further wrote that they and the Responsible Business Lending Coalition (RBLC) have been working diligently with NY state legislators for the last year or so to craft this bill. Among RBLC’s membership is Fundera, Nav, Lendistry, LendingClub and about 4 dozen other companies.

How Should A Merchant Cash Advance Be Structured, What is Syndication, and More?

June 29, 2020
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A recent roundtable hosted by Pepper Hamilton partner Gregory J. Nowak examined some broad questions about merchant cash advances including:

  • What is a merchant cash advance?
  • How should a merchant cash advance transaction be structured?
  • What are the key features for enforceability?
  • Could a merchant cash advance transaction be a security?
  • What is participation? is it a security? If yes, what does that mean?
  • What is syndication?
  • What’s the role of FINRA?

They published the presentation on jdsupra.com and it can be viewed here:

Sorry, You’re Not Eligible For PPP Money

April 8, 2020
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closed for businessThe rush to submit your PPP application may be for naught if you own an ineligible business. The SBA prohibits loan guarantees to “businesses primarily engaged in lending, investments, or to an otherwise eligible business engaged in financing or factoring.” If there’s any confusion as to what that includes, the SBA lists 7 specific ineligible business types under this definition in the statutory code. They include:

  • Banks
  • Life Insurance Companies (but not independent agents);
  • Finance Companies
  • Factoring Companies
  • Investment Companies
  • Bail Bond Companies
  • Other businesses whose stock in trade is money

The PPP’s interim final rule refers to this statute as a rule for ineligibility as it applies to the PPP.

The statute does list a handful of businesses engaged in lending that may traditionally qualify for an exception. They are as follows:

  • A pawn shop that provides financing is eligible if more than 50% of its revenue for the previous year was from the sale of merchandise rather than from interest on loans.
  • A business that provides financing in the regular course of its business (such as a business that finances credit sales) is eligible, provided less than 50% of its revenue is from financing its sales.
  • A mortgage servicing company that disburses loans and sells them within 14 calendar days of loan closing is eligible. Mortgage companies primarily engaged in the business of servicing loans are eligible. Mortgage companies that make loans and hold them in their portfolio are not eligible.
  • A check cashing business is eligible if it receives more than 50% of its revenue from the service of cashing checks.
  • A business engaged in providing the services of a financial advisor on a fee basis is eligible provided they do not use loan proceeds to invest in their own

deBanked is not a law firm. Consult a CPA or an attorney to provide better guidance on your company’s eligibility.

Lists of States Where Non-Essential Businesses Have Been Ordered to Close

March 24, 2020
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Make sure you know about individual state orders that could affect a small business’s ability to operate. Below is a list of states and regions that have ordered some or all non-essential businesses to close. This list may be incomplete and the details of each state’s orders could change and may have changed since this was posted. Do you own due diligence:

Maryland Merchant Cash Advance Prohibition Bill Put on Hold After State Abruptly Ended The Legislative Session

March 19, 2020
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prohibitionThe State of Maryland decided to end their 2020 legislative session late last night rather than on the original April 6th deadline, due to COVID-19 concerns. Legislators managed to pass 650 bills in a “3-day sprint” but did not get to everything. Among the bills that did not even make it to the floor were SB913 and HB1478, the bills that called for an outright prohibition on a narrow definition of merchant cash advances.

But it’s not over. Legislative leaders plan to hold a special legislative session at the end of May which they may use to vote on the numerous bills they were not able to pass in time this week.

Senate President Bill Ferguson told the Baltimore Sun, “We want to give enough time for the public health crisis to move past.”

The bills were not exactly on the fast track as it was, having only gone through 1 committee hearing leading up to the deadline.

If the bills do not pass during the special legislative session in May, they might not be picked up again until the normal session resumes in Mid-January 2021.

With New York in a State of Emergency, Its Legislators Rush to Regulate Disclosures in the Commercial Finance Industry

March 16, 2020
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New York CityOn March 7th, Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency for New York State. Four and 6 days later respectively, legislators in the state Assembly and Senate introduced commercial financing disclosure bills that would regulate all business-to-business financing transactions including secured loans, factoring, and merchant cash advances. The bills intend to create uniform disclosures for comparison purposes while also placing control of the commercial finance industry under the purview of the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS).

The bills also state that merchant cash advance companies may be required to prepare funding reports on all of their deals for the DFS to inspect so that the superintendent can analyze the difference between the estimated anticipated APR and the actual retrospective APR that resulted after the merchants delivered all of the receivables to the funder on each deal.

The bills are said to have been in the works for some time, but the timing of their introduction is awkward given the sudden economic situation that is unfolding in the state.

The bills are actually quite lengthy so you can read them yourselves in full here:

Assembly Bill A10118 – Introduced by Kenneth Zebrowski

Senate Bill S05470A – Introduced by Kevin Thomas

New Jersey Tries Again With a Small Business Finance Disclosure Bill

January 26, 2020
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New Jersey Capitol Building in TrentonFor the third year in a row, New Jersey has a small business finance disclosure bill on the table. S233 is the latest iteration of S2262 from prior years.

Introduced by State Senator Troy Singleton, the proposed law would impose disclosures on loans, factoring, and merchant cash advances on transactions less than $500,000.

In addition to APR requirements, brokers who arrange such financing would be required to disclose their fee to prospective applicants separately from the financing contract and prior to the consummation of the transaction.

Singleton is a Democrat. The Democrats in New Jersey control the Senate, Assembly, and Governor’s office.

New Jersey Firms Up Its Confession of Judgment Bill

January 13, 2020
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The New Jersey State legislature strengthened its Confession of Judgment (COJ) bill last week by adding language that grants the Attorney General power to enforce monetary penalties against violators.

S3581 would prohibit any provider of business financing from extending financing with a COJ. Business financing is defined as a loan, line of credit, cash advance, factoring, or asset-based transaction for a business purpose.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate and Assembly and be signed off by the Governor in order to become law. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Troy Singleton, is a Democrat, increasing the likelihood that the Democrat-controlled legislature and Democrat Governor Phil Murphy will move it forward.

Dodd-Frank’s Small Business Lending Data Collection Rule Could Still Take Years to Implement

January 12, 2020
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CFPB LogoSmall business lenders: Are you ready to regularly submit loan application data to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? No? Good, because almost ten years after Dodd-Frank passed, the provision that requires the CFPB to collect small business lending data still hasn’t been implemented.

And apparently we’re still years away.

Section 1071, as it’s known, modified the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and defined a small business lender as any company that engages in any financial activity. So if you’re wondering if this thing even applies to whatever you do in your corner of small business finance, it probably does.

The rule has taken so long to implement that consumer advocacy groups have actually sued the CFPB over the delay. The CFPB took note followed by initiative and hosted a symposium late last year to discuss how it might go forward. The next steps from here are to convene a panel of small business lenders, have that panel issue a report, propose what the rules on collection will be, collect feedback on the proposal, formulate a final rule, issue a rule, and then set a time for when it will go into effect. That process could mean that the earliest that data collection takes place is in 2023, possibly even longer as the entire financial services industry may need time to develop the infrastructure and human resources to comply.

Beyond that, advocates and critics of Section 1071 do not even entirely agree on what purpose data collection will even serve. Some believe the intent is merely for the government to have access to data it otherwise might not have while others believe that the CFPB could use statistics it deems discriminatory to bring enforcement actions against financial institutions. Sounds like we could use a few more years to get on the same page…

A recording of the 2019 Symposium is below:

Robocalls Targeted by Trump, Cuomo, Michigan Attorney General

January 2, 2020
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TCPA rules on cell phonesIn what turned out to be a tough week for illegal robocalls, both the President and New York’s Governor have been behind bills set to combat the invasive form of marketing.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed the TRACED (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement & Deterrence) Act, bringing into effect legislation first introduced to in November 2018. Aiming to crack down on the number of robocalls received by Americans, TRACED increases the fine faced by robocallers, setting it now in the range of $1,500 to $10,000 if caught. As well as this, the bill pushes for the rollout of call-authentication technology by telecommunication companies to identify ‘spoofed’ numbers and block them accordingly.

Such technology was authorized for use by an FCC vote last June. However while it has since been employed by the likes of T-Mobile and AT&T, the authorization did not guarantee all Americans access to the service, as in some cases it has been offered as a premium feature of more expensive phone plans.

Another detail of TRACED is that it extends the FCC’s period of time to collect fines from illegal robocallers from one year to four, a development that is seen optimistically as a path to increasing the number of charges made. According to the FCC, between 2015 and March of 2018, $208.4 million in fines was collected from illegal robocallers.

Historically, the onus has been on the individual to shield themselves from robocalls, with companies such as Hiya and YouMail offering apps to block them. But with this legislation, moves are being made to compel service providers to better protect their customers, and Governor Cuomo’s bill seeks to take this one step further.

Announced on January 1st, one day after Trump’s signing, Cuomo’s robocall bill is part of his 2020 agenda, titled State of the State. Sharing similarities with TRACED, one of the primary differences between the two bills is that Cuomo’s would require telecommunications companies to block robocalls, pinning them with a fine upon failing to do this.

And making it a hat-trick for anti-robocall legal action this week is Michigan’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel, who set up a Robocall Crackdown Team dedicated to charging those partaking in the criminal activity. “The message we want to send loud and clear is if you are engaged in this kind of illegal activity, we are going to come after you,” said Nessel at a press conference. “And we are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

New Jersey is Propelling its Own Confession of Judgment Bill

December 12, 2019
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New Jersey Capitol Building in TrentonThe New Jersey legislature has climbed aboard the Confession of Judgment restriction train. On Thursday, the state’s Senate Commerce Committee advanced S3581, a bill that would prohibit the use of COJs in a “business financing” contract with a New Jersey debtor. The bill was introduced in March but had not experienced movement until today.

New Jersey’s COJ bill is similar to the bill advancing through the House of Representatives at the federal level. Meanwhile, New York’s legislature had also proposed a near-identical bill but it did not pass. Instead, New York passed a law that prohibits entering a judgment by confession in New York’s courts against a non-New York debtor.

The New Jersey bill passed through the committee without any debate. The Committee chair said on the record, however, that the New Jersey Credit Union League, an advocacy group for credit unions, was in favor of the bill.

OCC Believes It’s Time To Fix Madden Issue Once And For All

November 18, 2019
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OCC SealIf a bank makes a legal loan to a consumer and then later sells the debt to a third party, the terms of the loan are still legal right?

“Yes” should be the obvious answer, but in 2015 a federal appeals court said “no.” The case was Madden v. Midland Funding LLC, which started as a credit card debt owed by a consumer to Bank of America at 27% interest and ended as an allegedly illegal loan once the debt was sold to Midland Funding.

The ruling, which deBanked has covered extensively, shook the consumer and business loan markets in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont with its jurisdictional reach. Midland Funding appealed the ruling to the United States Supreme Court but the Court declined to hear the case.

Congress attempted to bring clarity to the lawfulness of the practice with a bill called the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017 but failed when the approved House bill never even came up for a vote in the Senate.

On Monday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) proposed a rule to clarify the “Valid When Made” Doctrine that had been pierced in Madden. “This proposal will address confusion about the effect of a transfer on a loan’s valid interest rate, including confusion resulting from a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC),” OCC wrote in a statement.

A 60-day public comment period will be open once the proposal is published in the Federal Register. To find out how to comment on the rule, click here.

“Predatory Lenders” Slammed as Bill to Ban Confessions of Judgment Nationwide Advances

November 14, 2019
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Rep Nydia Velázquez and Michael Bloomberg
Above: Rep Nydia Velázquez and Michael Bloomberg | Brooklyn, 2011
(Bloomberg is majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP)

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D) celebrated the advancement of a bill on Thursday that aims to outlaw confessions of judgment (COJs) in commercial finance transactions nationwide. HR 3490, dubbed the Small Business Lending Fairness Act, made its way through the House Financial Services Committee on a vote of 31-23. The next step will be a floor vote.

Velázquez made direct references to a Bloomberg News story series published last year about “predatory lending” and a NY Times article about Taxi medallion loans as her basis for supporting it. Velázquez said that New York had become a breeding ground for “con artists” that relied on COJs to prey on mom-and-pop businesses. The congresswoman singled out New York because of recent taxi medallion loan outrage and the state’s alleged reputation as a “clearing house” for obtaining fast easy judgments against debtors nationwide. New York took a major step to change that practice earlier this year through a new law that only allows COJs to be filed in the state against New York residents. HR 3490 seeks to prevent them from being filed in every state, including New York.

Senator Marco RubioIronically then, the bill is at odds with the new New York law in that Velázquez’s bill, if it became federal law, would go so far as to prevent New York’s own courts from entering a COJ against New York’s own residents, if it resulted from a commercial finance transaction.

While momentum in the House could be perceived as a partisan initiative unlikely to survive the Senate, the bill has in fact garnered a degree of Republican support, recently through Rep. Roger W. Marshall, a co-sponsor of the bill, and originally by Senator Marco Rubio who initially sparked the call to action in the Senate last year.

A co-author of the COJ-centric Bloomberg News stories was quick to take the credit for the advancement of Velázquez’s bill.

COJ Enforcer Gets COJ’d By City of New York And Is Forced to Resign NYC Marshal Position

November 7, 2019
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cojsA New York City marshal at the center of a controversial Bloomberg News story series last year about “predatory lending,” has resigned after a city probe, the City of New York announced.

Marshal Vadim Barbarovich was allegedly a prolific enforcer of New York judgments obtained by confession. After irregularities were discovered by the Department of Investigation with how he served levies, the City of New York formally levied penalties of their own against him that include a return of fees and poundage earned from 92 improperly served levies, his resignation, and a $300,000 fine.

The City agreed to suspend the full amount of the monetary fine provided he complies with an orderly wind-down of his business by March 20th. Barbarovich, in a twisted circumstance of irony, had to guarantee full immediate payment in the instance he did not comply…by signing a Confession of Judgment.

NYC Marshal Vadim Barbarovich Confession of Judgment

The investigation into Barbarovich began in May 2018, 4 months before Bloomberg News published their story, details published by the City reveal.

Earlier this year, New York State passed a law restricting COJs from being entered against non-New York state debtors.