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Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014

If you have gift cards on your shopping list, you’re not alone. Industry experts estimate gift card spending will top $32 billion this year – both for cards you can use at a specific store (department store or coffee shop), and for bank or credit union cards that are accepted at many businesses (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, etc.). When you’re giving gift cards, here are a few things to know:
• Are there fees to buy or use the card? Read that tiny print to find out what kind of deal you’re giving – or getting.
• Does the card’s packaging look okay? Inspect it to be sure. If the PIN is showing, a thief might already have it – which could mean the thief can get any money you load onto the card.
• Buying gift cards through online auction sites? Those could be fakes. Stick to sources you know and trust.
• Sending a store card to your nephew in Oregon? Make sure that store is close enough for him to shop there.
On the receiving end, there are things to know, too. For example, if you lose the card, you’re out of luck. Sellers don’t have to replace it. And there are reasons to use gift cards sooner rather than later; some cards start charging fees if you don’t use the card for a while. If the store goes out of business, your gift card is also out of business.

A final word to the wise: whether you’re giving or receiving gift cards, keep track of the receipt. Whoever uses the gift card will need it in case problems arise with the card.

To stay up to date on regulatory trends and news, frequently visit our blog. TRC Interactive also offers online, interactive training on various compliance related topics. Reinforce fair lending principals with TRC Interactive Inc. Fair Lending and Laws Against Discrimination in Mortgage Lending courses. To learn more, contact us at info@trcinteractive.com or (800) 222-9909.

Wednesday, 3 Dec 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a bulletin advising lenders to avoid imposing illegal burdens on consumers receiving disability income who apply for mortgages especially if the lenders ask for proof of how long they will receive their benefits. The CFPB is reminding lenders that requiring unnecessary documentation from consumers who receive Social Security disability income may raise fair lending risk.

More than 15 million people receive Social Security disability income every year, including many who are veterans of the U.S. armed forces. For those relying on this income, qualifying for a mortgage can be a challenge when lenders ask for proof of how long they will receive their benefits. The Social Security Administration generally will not provide documentation regarding how long benefits will last. Some applicants have reported being asked for information about their disabilities or even for doctors’ notes about the likely duration of their disabilities.

Lenders can consider the source of an applicant’s income for determining pertinent elements of creditworthiness. However, lenders may face fair lending risk if they require documentation beyond that required by applicable agency or secondary market standards and guidelines to demonstrate that Social Security disability income is likely to continue.

To stay up to date on regulatory trends and news, frequently visit our blog. TRC Interactive also offers online, interactive training on various compliance related topics. Reinforce fair lending principals with TRC Interactive Inc. Fair Lending and Laws Against Discrimination in Mortgage Lending courses. To learn more, contact us at info@trcinteractive.com or (800) 222-9909.

Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014

Now is a good time to review your website offerings that may be directed at children like savings games and more importantly to review your third-party vendor relationships that may be collecting consumer information, to make sure they are complying with the requirements of COPPA.

Take a lesson from Yelp. It applies to you too. Yelp is an online service where people can read and create reviews about businesses and connect with others online and at local events. Many users post profiles with photos and detailed information about themselves. Yelp's "check in" feature lets users announce their presence at a certain business. The problem with Yelp apps is how the age-screening mechanism works – or more accurately, doesn’t work. People who registered on the app were asked for a date of birth, but regardless of what they entered, the Yelp app allowed them to sign up and gave them full access to all features.

Yelp also collected certain information automatically from the phones of registered Yelp users. For example, to get metrics about its mobile user base, Yelp grabbed their Mobile Device ID, the unique identifier assigned to each phone. Furthermore, if people let Yelp offer them location-based services, the company used the device’s GPS to collect the user’s precise location. Given the flaw in the app’s age-screening mechanism, that meant Yelp was collecting personal information from users who said they were under 13 without parental notice and consent. According to the FTC, that went on from April 2009 to April 2013 on both the iOS and Android versions of the Yelp app – and in violation of the COPPA Rule.

The FTC’s complaint charges that Yelp failed to comply with COPPA even though it knew, based on registrants’ birth dates, that kids under 13 were registering via the company’s mobile apps. The lawsuit also alleges that Yelp didn’t adequately test its apps to ensure that users under the age of 13 were prohibited from registering

The settlement imposes a $450,000 civil penalty, requires the company to comply with COPPA in the future, and mandates a report to the FTC a year from now describing what Yelp is doing to comply. In addition, Yelp has to delete information it collected from consumers who said they were under 13 years when they registered.

Keeping your financial institution up to date on regulatory issues and your employees educated can be a daunting task. TRC can help. To learn more, contact us at info@trcinteractive.com or (800) 222-9909. The COPPA rules are covered in TRC Interactive’s Information Security course along with other important privacy and security information of which every financial institution needs to be aware.

Wednesday, 5 Nov 2014

The CFPB released an updated mortgage rules Readiness Guide which includes the new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule. The Readiness Guide can be accessed here and offers guidance on how to evaluate readiness for complying with the mortgage rule changes.

The updated guide incorporates changes made to Regulation Z, the implementing regulation for the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and to Regulation X, the implementing regulation for the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

Now is the time to begin preparing for The TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule because it will require significant preparation for the implementation date. TRC anticipates releasing updated TILA and RESPA courses in the second quarter of 2015 to help prepare your staff for the upcoming changes.

Keeping your financial institution up to date on regulatory issues and your employees educated can be a daunting task. TRC can help. To learn more, contact us at info@trcinteractive.com or (800) 222-9909.

Monday, 27 Oct 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized a rule where certain institutions can post their notices online instead of mailing them!

Generally, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) requires that financial institutions send annual privacy notices to customers. However the new rule, which was proposed in May, allows financial institutions to post privacy notices online instead of distributing an annual paper copy, if they satisfy certain conditions such as not sharing data in ways that would trigger consumers’ opt-out rights. The new rule applies to both banks and those non-banks that are within the CFPB’s jurisdiction under the GLBA. Institutions that choose to rely on this new method of delivering privacy notices will be required to use the model disclosure form developed by federal regulatory agencies in 2009.

Also, if an institution qualifies for and wants to rely on the online disclosure method, it will have to inform consumers annually about the availability of the disclosures. Previously, institutions were required to send consumers a separate communication about privacy disclosures. The new rule allows institutions to include a notice on a regular consumer communication, such as a monthly billing statement for a credit card, letting consumers know that the annual privacy notice is available online and in paper by request at a provided telephone number. If an institution chooses not to use the new disclosure method, it will need to continue to deliver annual privacy notices to its customers using other delivery methods.

The Bureau is finalizing the rule largely as it was proposed in May, with a number of technical, clarifying, and minor revisions. The rule will be effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.

To stay up to date on regulatory trends and news, frequently visit our blog. TRC Interactive also offers online, interactive training on various compliance related topics. To learn more, contact us at info@trcinteractive.com or (800) 222-9909.

The final rule is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201410_cfpb_final-rule_annual-privacy-notice.pdf.

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