Congress

NACBA’s Latest Washington Update

 

Read the latest update from Washington, designed to keep NACBA members informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.

ON THE HILL  A vote in Senate on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration regulation is imminent. Republican leaders are considering whether to bring to the Senate floor a bill that would kill the arbitration regulation finalized by the CFPB this summer using a special legislative tool that allows them to avoid a Democratic filibuster if they act within 60 legislative days of implementation. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) are cosponsors of the legislation in the Senate. The debate comes three weeks after a public outcry compelled the Atlanta-based Equifax to quickly drop so-called forced arbitration language from the terms of service of the free credit monitoring service it was offering its customers after its massive data breach. The House of Representatives already passed a “resolution of disapproval” to revoke the CFPB’s arbitration rule. A total of 23 Senate Republicans filed a resolution at the end of July to rescind the CFPB rule. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, has promised to fight to keep the rule.

IN THE AGENCIES On September 14th, Clifford White, Director of the Executive Office of the U.S. Trustees addressed the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees at the 35th Annual Convention. He discussed topics that included chapter 7 trustees, guidance on natural disasters, marijuana assets, and stale debt claims—to name a few. Amongst things he noted for natural disaster guidelines were: the US Trustee Program (USTP) will not take enforcement action against debtors who are unable to file or produce documents required by the Code as a result of a natural disaster, if they otherwise are eligible for relief; USTP will not move to dismiss under the “means test” if income loss, increased expenses, or other consequences of a natural disaster constitute “special circumstances” sufficient to rebut the presumption of abuse; and even if conditions do not justify a United States Trustee granted statutory waiver of the credit counseling requirements for a district, USTP will exercise prosecutorial discretion in considering whether to take action to dismiss the case of a debtor who, as a result of a natural disaster, experiences difficulty in obtaining a credit counseling certificate or whose filing was delayed beyond the 180-day period following the debtor’s receipt of credit counseling.

The Federal Trade Commission launched a web page highlighting the work of the agency’s new Military Task Force, which is aimed at identifying the needs of military consumers and developing initiatives to empower servicemembers, veterans, and their families, including through law enforcement actions. The Military Task Force, comprised of a cross-section of agency representatives, is part of the FTC’s ongoing and collaborative effort to provide resources for the military community. Servicemembers, like all consumers, are potential targets for fraudsters. Certain scams are more likely to target the military community because those families may relocate frequently and because many service members are living on their own and earning a paycheck for the first time.

FROM THE INTEREST GROUPS Following the U.S. Trustee Program’s recently issued guidelines for natural disasters mentioned above, NACBA and NCLC wrote a joint letter urging for stronger relief for bankruptcy debtors in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico proportionate to the serious problems those hurricane victims are now facing. Specifically, NACBA and NCLC request USTP approve a waiver of credit counseling requirements in the areas of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

OTHER A report was recently published that analyzed issues of bankruptcy and race in America. Interested parties can access the report online.

 

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

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Stay Informed With NACBA’s Latest Washington Update

Read the latest update from Washington, designed to keep NACBA members informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.

On The Hill The Senate unanimously approved legislation on September 8th by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) clarifying Congress’ intent to allow family farmers to more easily reorganize their finances when they fall on hard times. S. 1237 Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act of 2017 reiterates Congress’ earlier action to enable bankrupt family farmers reorganizing their debts to treat capital gains taxes owed to a governmental unit, arising from the sale of farm assets during a bankruptcy, as general unsecured claims.  It also removes the Internal Revenue Service’s veto power over a bankruptcy reorganization plan’s confirmation, giving the family farmer a chance to reorganize successfully.

On September 6th Senator Coons’ (D-DE) bill S. 1107, Bankruptcy Judgeship Act of 2017, passed the Senate. The bill extends temporary bankruptcy judgeships and calls for a five-year extension for 14 temporary bankruptcy judgeships and will create four new bankruptcy judgeships. With this bill, Delaware will retain its one permanent bankruptcy judge, will receive extensions of its five temporary bankruptcy judges and will receive an additional two temporary bankruptcy judgeships for five years to handle the heavy caseload for the district, which is one of the busiest in the country.

Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) is pushing to have federal flood insurance reformed to avoid bankruptcy and to allow private insurance to run the program as opposed to the federal government. He wants to set flood insurance up so that the private market can come in and offer premiums and coverage at better prices than the federal government. Duffy agrees that helping Texas is the right thing to do, but warned continued subsidies to flood areas is not fiscally sound, and encouraged Congress to think about future disasters on the horizon.

In The Agencies On September 1st the Education Department has notified the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that it’s severing operating agreements with it, saying the regulatory body has “undermined” the mission to serve students and borrowers — particularly in its handling of student loan servicing issues. A copy of the letter notifying the CFPB of the decision was released Friday by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. It’s signed by A. Wayne Johnson, chief operating officer of the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, and Kathleen Smith, acting assistant secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education, and dated Thursday. It is claimed that the CFPB is using its jurisdiction in areas that Congress never intended.

OTHER Following the recent Equifax breach, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, is calling on Equifax to immediately remove forced arbitration from all services offered to customers following a data breach that exposed 143 million Americans to identify theft. Equifax is currently touting free credit monitoring and identify protection services for victims of the breach through its TrustedID product. However, Equifax included forced arbitration clauses in the terms of use agreement customers must agree to when signing up for the services – effectively forcing victims of the breach to sign away their rights to seek access to court.

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

Bankruptcy News Briefs 9/13

Midweek Headlines in the Briefs…

August Bankruptcy Filings Increase for Consumers and Businesses

CFPB Gets $14M In Relief For Deceived Consumers Since Start Of Year

Upcoming Programs On CFPB Arbitration Rule

National Credit Systems Inc., Equifax Inc. accused of misrepresentation in debt collection

CFPB Enters Consent Order with Lead Aggregator For Steering Consumers to Illegal Loans

United States: New TCPA Class Action: Expansion Into Service Calls

Medical debt won’t go on your credit report right away, come Sept. 15, 2017

Roadblocks Ahead for Credit Union Legislation

Don’t miss NACBA’s 2017 Hill Day at Home October 16- October 20, 2017. Hill Day at Home allows NACBA members to meet with federal lawmakers, grow and maintain working relationships with Congressional offices, and have a lasting impact on bankruptcy policymaking, all without leaving the comfort of your state. Meetings will be arranged for you, some taking place in local House and Senate district offices and some being held over the phone with bankruptcy staffers in D.C.

Please sign into your NACBA Member Account to Register now for Hill Day at Home!

DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

Upcoming Webinar!

DATE: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 3:00 PM Eastern to 4:15 PM Eastern
PRESENTED BYEdward C. Boltz, Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, PC; Durham, N.C. and Jody Bledsoe, Chapter 13 Trustee; New Bern, NC
COST: $25 Member / $75 Non Member
REGISTERHERE
DATE: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 4:00 PM Eastern to 4:45 PM Eastern
PRESENTED BYJames Haller, Esq., Sulaiman Law Group Ltd. Chicago, IL
COST: $25 Member / $75 Non Member
REGISTERHERE

NACBA Events

  • Save the Date for the 2018 NACBA Annual Convention on April 19-22 at the Sheraton in Downtown Denver!
  • NACBA 2018 Cruise! Get ready to set sail on the Empress of the Sea on November 29th-December 3rd 2018! Visit Havana, Cuba and Nassau, Bahamas while learning with NACBA! Registration is open!

 

Stay Informed! Read NACBA’s Washington Update

Check out the latest update from Washington, designed to keep NACBA members informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.

On The Hill Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Al Franken (D-MN) sat down to discuss CFPB’s arbitration rule in a Facebook video published on Senator Warren’s page. View the video to hear the advice they provide on what viewers can do to stop Congress from “selling out to the big banks”.

In The Agencies The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has filed an amicus brief in support of the Department of Education’s (ED) appeal asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to vacate a preliminary injunction entered by the Court of Federal Claims that bars the ED from assigning defaulted student loans to certain small business private collection agency contractors and other contractors.  The injunction was issued in a lawsuit filed by companies challenging ED decisions not to award or continue contracts with such companies to collect student loans. The CFPB argues that by preventing the ED from assigning debt collectors to defaulted loans, the preliminary injunction impedes or prevents borrowers from managing their federal student loan debt.

More on CFPB. On August 25, 2017 CFPB issued the 2017 HMDA Final Rule that amends Regulation C to implement amendments to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act made by section 1094 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act). CFPB added several new reporting requirements, clarified existing requirements and modified institutional and transactional coverage of Regulation C. The final rule also provides extensive guidance regarding compliance with both the existing and new requirements.

The Trump administration has selected Julian Schmoke Jr. to serve as the Department of Education’s new chief enforcement officer. Schmoke is a former for-profit college official who previously directed campus operations at West Georgia Technical College and served as a dean at DeVry University. He will lead the Department’s unit that polices fraud in higher education. Specifically, Schmoke will lead the Student Aid Enforcement Unit established by the Obama administration to more aggressively combat fraud and deceptive practices at colleges and universities. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-Il) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote a letter to Secretary DeVos urging that the person selected must “have relevant experience in consumer protection or litigation, managing attorneys, and conducting investigations with the highest ethical standards.” The unit Schmoke will oversee is also responsible for processing debt relief claims filed by federal student loan borrowers who say they’ve been defrauded by their college.

OTHER It is being reported that in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, about 80% of homeowners in the areas devastated by the hurricane lack flood insurance. This leaves many who escaped the storm with little financial help to rebuild their homes and lives. The Washington Post reports that only 17 percent of homeowners in the eight counties most directly affected by Harvey have flood insurance policies that cover up to $250,000 in rebuilding costs and $100,000 to replace personal belongings such as TVs and furniture. Losing a home without insurance compensation is financially devastating. A total loss could delay retirement or force people into bankruptcy.

Wells Fargo is now revealing it has found a total of up to 3.5 million potentially fake bank and credit card accounts, up from its earlier tally of approximately 2.1 million. The additional fake accounts were discovered by a previously-announced analysis that went back to January 2009 and that reviewed the original May 2011 to mid-2015 period. Moreover, Wells Fargo also revealed that thousands of customers were enrolled in online bill pay without their authorization. The review found 528,000 potentially unauthorized online bill pay enrollments.

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

Bankruptcy News Briefs 9/5

New Month New Headlines…

No Bad Faith for Failure to Voluntarily Devote Social Security Funds to Plan

RMA Recommends Suspension of Communications to Consumers Located in Areas Affected by Tropical Storm Harvey

Federal Judge Dismisses CFPB’s Claims Against Debt Collection Service Providers

College Football Tickets are Property of the Estate which Trustee May Sell for Benefit of Creditors

Court Sanctioned Creditor, an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney, who Feigned Ignorance of the Law, with $5,000 in Punitive Damages for Egregious Violations of the Automatic Stay and Discharge Injunction

From the Web: ‘CFPB Director Evasive About Possible Resignation’

Republicans Accelerating Repeal Of Rule To Restore Consumers’ Right To Sue Banks

HHS Secretary Issues Directive on HIPAA Privacy During Public Health Emergency

FTC Court Order Bans Debt Collector from Industry

CFPB Rule Fight Forces Senators to Choose: Military Families or Big Banks

Education Dept. Ends Partnership With CFPB

Wells Fargo’s latest fake account revelation proves why the CFPB must survive

Recent Massachusetts AG consent order places new requirements on debt collection law firm

Liz Weston: Credit Bureaus Ease Medical Debt Pain for a Few

US Credit Card Debt Sets New Record—But Is That a Problem?

“Modest” Overstatements of Amount Due and Interest Rate Actionable Under FDCPA, Ninth Circuit Rules

2017 Hill Day Registration is Open!

Don’t miss NACBA’s 2017 Hill Day at Home October 16- October 20, 2017. Hill Day at Home allows NACBA members to meet with federal lawmakers, grow and maintain working relationships with Congressional offices, and have a lasting impact on bankruptcy policymaking, all without leaving the comfort of your state. Meetings will be arranged for you, some taking place in local House and Senate district offices and some being held over the phone with bankruptcy staffers in D.C.

Please sign into your NACBA Member Account to Register now for Hill Day at Home!

DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

Upcoming Webinar!

DATE: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 3:00 PM Eastern to 4:15 PM Eastern
PRESENTED BYEdward C. Boltz, Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, PC; Durham, N.C. and Jody Bledsoe, Chapter 13 Trustee; New Bern, NC
COST: $25 Member / $75 Non Member
REGISTERHERE

NACBA Events

  • Save the Date for the 2018 NACBA Annual Convention on April 19-22 at the Sheraton in Downtown Denver!
  • NACBA 2018 Cruise! Get ready to set sail on the Empress of the Sea on November 29th-December 3rd 2018! Visit Havana, Cuba and Nassau, Bahamas while learning with NACBA! Registration is open!

Washington Update- August 18th

Krista D’Amelio gives the latest update from Washington, designed to keep NACBA members informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.  Take a look at what’s happening in DC in the Washington Update.

On The Hill U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent letters on August 10th to the heads of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Company, Citigroup Inc., U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., TD Group US Holdings, Capital One Financial Corporation, HSBC North America Holdings, Charles Schwab Corporation, BB&T Corporation, Suntrust Bank, Barclays US, Ally Financial Inc., American Express Co. and Citizens Financial Group. In these letters, she requests information on the banks’ stances on the arbitration rule, along with data on the firms’ use of arbitration clauses in consumer agreements and the outcomes of arbitration proceedings. Warren has asked for responses by September 1 because Republicans have introduced a CRA resolution to reverse the CFPB rule. Warren is the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions.

Full text of H.R. 3553 has been released. As you may recall from the previous Washington Update, the bill was introduced by Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) on July 28th to amend title 11 of the United States Code to increase the amount of compensation paid to chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees for services rendered.

On August 17thPresident Trump signed into law H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” named after the American Legion national commander who wrote the original GI Bill language in 1944. This legislation contains 34 new provisions, the vast majority of which will enhance or expand education benefits for Veterans, Servicemembers, Families and Survivors. Most notably, Veterans who transitioned out of the military after January 1, 2013 will not be limited to the 15-year deadline to use their GI Bill benefits. This law also restores benefits to Veterans, who were impacted by school closures since 2015, and expands benefits for our reservists, surviving dependents, Purple Heart recipients, and provides many other improvements.

In The Agencies The Department of Education submitted a notice in the Federal Register on August 17th regarding the gainful employment rule that would delay appeals and leave the future of failing programs up to Secretary  DeVos. The gainful employment regulation requires schools to give prospective students key information about costs and outcomes of career education programs at for-profit, public, and nonprofit colleges, ends federal funding for programs that consistently leave students with debts they cannot repay, and allows colleges to appeal if they believe program graduates earn more than federal data indicate. The document establishes new deadlines for submitting notices of intent to file alternate earnings appeals and for submitting alternate earnings appeals. Normally, appeals would be due in February 2018 and warnings are not required by failing programs that intend to say they intend to appeal.

More from the Department of Education. On August 14th, the Department told a federal appeals court that a court order blocking its ability to send any newly defaulted student loan borrowers to its hired debt collectors has cost taxpayers more than $5 million in lost collections since March. In addition, the Education Department now estimates that 463,000 borrowers are stuck in default limbo because they haven’t been assigned a debt collection firm. This lawsuit came about because private debt collection agencies that were not awarded the latest collection contract sued the Department of Education. After the judge overseeing the litigation issued an order preventing the Department from assigning new accounts to debt collectors, the Department announced a re-do of the contract and is now rushing to make a final award by the end of next week.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released new data on August 16th that found nearly half of student loan borrowers leave school owing at least $20,000 – double the share of borrowers a decade ago. Further, the data shows that people are taking on more student debt later in life, and having a tougher time paying it back. 44 million Americans currently owe money and the combined total of outstanding federal and private student loan debt now exceeds $1.4 trillion.

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com