Posts Authored by Timothy E. Wieher

New California lending rate limit (AB 539) impacts some B2B loans

On October 10, 2019, the Fair Access to Credit Act (AB 539) was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom and becomes effective on January 1, 2020. As detailed in a previous publication, the law applies only to loans made under the California Financing Law (CFL) and imposes requirements related to interest rate caps, borrower education, credit reporting and maximum loan repayment periods.

It is important for commercial (B2B) CFL licensed lenders to note that under AB 539, commercial loans with a principal amount of less than $5,000 are considered consumer loans under the CFL, regardless of the intended purpose of the loan.

Under Section 22203 of the CFL, “consumer loans” are defined as loans that the borrower intends to use primarily for personal, family or household purposes. 

Under Section 22502 of the CFL, “commercial loans” are defined loans with a principal amount of $5,000 or more, and the intended use is for other than personal, family or household purposes.

However, the definitions of consumer loans and commercial loans are not mutually exclusive, and under Section 22204 of the CFL, loans for commercial purposes with a principal amount of less than $5,000 are considered consumer loans under the CFL.  Such loans are, therefore, subject to provisions of the CFL applicable to consumer loans, even if the intended use is for commercial purposes. Accordingly, the provisions of AB 539 similarly apply to commercial loans made by CFL licensed lenders in an amount less than $5,000. 

Bricker attorneys have extensive experience with commercial lending regulations in California and other jurisdictions. For more information, please contact the author or any member of Bricker’s Banking & Financial Services group.

Consumer Lending and Services, Legal Developments

California limits lending rates for consumer loans

The Fair Access to Credit Act (AB 539) was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom on October 10, 2019. The act requires California Finance Law (CFL) licensed lenders making consumer loans from at least $2,500 to less than $10,000 to comply with the following:

  • Lenders shall not charge a rate or service charges in excess of 36 percent plus the Federal Funds Rate.
  • Before providing loans, lenders must offer, at no cost to the borrower, an approved credit education class, which must include the following information:
    • The value of establishing a credit score
    • How to establish a credit score
    • Factors that impact a credit score
    • How to check one’s credit score
    • How to obtain a free copy of one’s credit report
    • How to dispute an error in one’s credit report
  • Lenders must not provide loans with terms less than 12 months, and such loans may not exceed the maximums under the act based on the principal amount of the loans. (Maximum terms range from 24 months and 15 days to 60 months and 15 days.)
  • Lenders must report each borrower’s payment performance to at least one nationwide consumer reporting agency. Newly licensed lenders or lenders that don’t currently report borrower performance have until July 1, 2020, to meet this requirement, provided they report the performance of borrowers dating back to January 1, 2020.

The act makes sweeping changes for consumer lenders providing applicable loans to California consumers through their CFL licenses, decreasing rates that may be charged while increasing compliance costs and obligations.

Consumer Lending and Services, Legal Developments

Nevada joins other states to enhance privacy protections for consumers

The trend of states increasing privacy protections for consumers continues to gain momentum throughout the country. Nevada is the most recent example and enacted new legislation to enhance privacy protections for its residents. This amendment to existing online privacy and data protection laws, Senate Bill 220 (S.B. 220), will be effective on October 1, 2019. Read more >>

Compliance Management, State Regulatory

FTC takes action and fines loan servicer: How to avoid being the subject of the next case

Loan servicers, beware! The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a large fine to a loan servicer, based on Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) standards. On April 15, 2019, the FTC and Avant, LLC, an online consumer lender and loan servicing company, entered into a settlement and stipulated order to resolve a lawsuit that alleged Avant violated federal consumer protection laws. The FTC asserted that Avant’s loan servicing practices constituted unfair and deceptive acts and practices under Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 41-58, as amended).

The FTC has the authority to regulate businesses engaging in interstate commerce, including online lenders that fund consumers or small businesses, and, among other areas, the FTC has oversight and enforcement obligations concerning unfair and deceptive acts and practices under the FTC Act. Unlike UDAAP under the Dodd-Frank Act, which applies only to consumer transactions, the FTC Act applies to both consumer and commercial lenders and loan servicers, as well as all other businesses operating in interstate commerce. Read more >>

Consumer Lending and Services, Legal Developments