Like most industries, Consumer Finance Services’ businesses have been severely affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Troutman Pepper has a special one COVID-19 Resource Center to guide customers through this unprecedented global health challenge. We regularly update this website with news and developments regarding COVID-19, recommendations from leading health organizations and tools that companies can use free of charge.
Our banking and credit service customers are also facing new challenges that affect their industry due to COVID-19, especially the ever-changing rules and regulations regarding evictions and foreclosures. We are closely following these updates and have put together an interactive tracker that includes government orders and guidance on foreclosures and eviction moratoriums. You can access this interactive tool at https://covid19.troutman.com/.
To help you stay up to date on relevant activity, below is a breakdown of some of the largest federal and state-level COVID-19-fueled events that impacted the Consumer Finance Services industry over the past week:
Data protection and cybersecurity activities
- On September 17, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report warning that if federal and state aid programs could sustain millions of tenants and their families from previously avoided economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic leak. The report “Financial Conditions for Tenants Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic” notes that some government relief efforts have likely helped maintain the financial stability of tenants and their families, suggesting that many may be doing so with the phasing out Programs could be at risk. The report, which compared homeowners and tenants, found that tenants’ economic conditions, on average, responded significantly better to relief measures such as stimulus payments and changes in unemployment benefits. Therefore, tenants and their families may be at increased risk after these programs end. For more information, click here.
- On September 14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to approve and publish a series of resolutions that will enable agency staff to conduct an efficient and timely investigation into behavior in key areas of the FTC over the next 10 years. The FTC recommended that the Commission approve eight new mandatory procedural decisions in these key areas: (1) acts or practices affecting members and veterans of the US Forces; (2) acts or practices that affect children; (3) Algorithmic and Biometric Bias; (4) fraudulent and manipulative behavior on the Internet; (5) repair restrictions; (6) abuse of intellectual property; (7) joint directors and officers and joint property; and (8) monopoly offenses. For more information, click here.
- On September 13, President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC. Bedoya would replace Rohit Chopra, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as director of the CFPB. For more information, click here.
- The interest and payment break for student loans held by the federal government will end on January 31, 2022. The CFPB has published a blog post to help consumers prepare for the repayment and inform them of options if they cannot afford payments. For more information, click here.
- On September 14, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring closed a state investigation into StubHub, Inc. directed by his Consumer Protection Section. More than 8,300 Virginias were affected when StubHub refused to “give consumers refunds for concerts and sporting events,” according to the press release. , and other events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. âAfter the investigation began, StubHub agreed to refund ticket purchases made before March 25, 2020 and notify affected customers. For more information, click here.
- On September 14, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that his office had filed a lawsuit against President Biden and other administrative officials over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees, federal contractors, and private companies with more than 100 employees. According to the press release “[t]This is the country’s first lawsuit against the Biden [a]the radical administrative measures that require COVID-19 vaccines. âIn the lawsuit, Attorney General Brnovich argues:â Biden’s vaccination mandate violates the equality clause by favoring migrants who have entered the country illegally over legal US citizens. âFor click for more information here.
- On September 9, the California State Assembly passed bill that (1) would prevent hospitals from selling certain patient debts; (2) require debt collection agencies to certify that patients have been screened for public programs and financial support before filing a debt collection claim, and (3) extend the time before a claim can be made with a debt collection agency to 180 days after the first settlement. For more information, click here.
- On September 8, Washington Attorney General Bob Fergus announced a settlement with a debt collector who had allegedly sent misleading letters with “settlement offers” to settle debts without revealing that the debt was statute-barred. According to Attorney General Fergus, failure to disclose debt after the statute of limitations violates the state’s consumer protection law. Washingtonians who have sent money to the debt collector will get that money back, plus interest, from the date of payment. For more information, click here.
Data protection and cybersecurity activities:
- On September 15, the FTC issued a statement confirming that mobile applications that process health information or other connected devices that collect health information âdo [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Actâs (HIPAA)] Health Injury Notification Rule[.]For those unfamiliar with the HIPAA Health Incident Notification Rule, affected companies must send alerts if they discover the use or disclosure of personal health information that is not allowed under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Much of the information that health-focused mobile apps are now gathering includes everything from glucose levels, heart health, and sleep cycles. The FTC statement is of particular concern to developers considering collecting vaccine status information for review purposes; check out Troutman Pepper’s Law360 items to learn more about potential privacy issues. For those interested in learning more about the FTC’s explanation, click here. To learn more about HIPAA’s impact on COVID-19, check out Troutman Pepper’s privacy and cybersecurity FAQ by clicking here.
- On September 13, the FTC warned people using LGBTQ + dating apps that scammers were targeting them to extort their hard-earned money. As the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people to socialize online, scammers are reportedly posing as potential romantic partners in LGBTQ + dating apps, collecting conversations or photos to blackmail victims. Scammers threaten individuals by telling victims that if they fail to pay, they will give any information they collect to friends, family, or employers. The FTC shared some tips:
- Check who you’re talking to by doing a search to see if their photo or profile matches any other name.
- Do not give out any personal information to strangers online; and
- Don’t pay scammers to destroy data as there is no guarantee that the scammers will delete the information.
To read the full announcement, click here.
- Earlier this month, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the results of a study on applications to report COVID-19 exposures, also known as contact tracing. GAO announced four policy options to help developers address future challenges, including advice on consistent data protection and security standards. GAO also noted that developers should consider implementing flexible privacy requirements because the privacy laws of jurisdictions vary across the country. For those interested in reading more about the GAO study, click here. For developers working on contact tracing applications, check out Troutman Pepper’s Law360 items, where we describe privacy policies for contact tracing.