Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Longer compliance time needed on CARD Act provision

From CUNA News Now, July 8, 2009:

WASHINGTON (7/8/09)—The Federal Reserve Board must give credit unions more time to comply with a provision of its expected rules to implement new credit card statutes if that provision is going to apply beyond credit cards, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged the federal regulator Tuesday.

CUNA has been working with the Fed to convey credit union concerns regarding a specific requirement in Section 106 of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act). That section prohibits creditors from claiming a payments is late unless that creditor adopts reasonable procedures to ensure that p e riodic statements are delivered to consumers no later than 21 days before the payment due date.

"As we explained in...earlier discussions with your staff, Section 106 of the CARD Act is very problematic both because it is one of the very few provisions that apply to all open-end credit, not just credit cards, and because of the upcoming Aug. 20 effective date," wrote CUNA.
Addressing the letter to Sandra Braunstein, director of the Fed's Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, CUNA wrote that if Section 106 is truly to cover all open-ended credit, the scope would be so broad that credit unions cannot realistically comply with the fast-approaching compliance date.

The letter reiterated CUNA's strong and long-standing support for the intent of the CARD Act, which is to eliminate predatory credit card practices. Credit unions back the changes, CUNA said, even though they will require significant adjustments over the next six weeks to ensure that credit card periodic statements are mailed at least 21 days in advance before a late charge may be assessed.

"Credit unions are diligently working with their data processors to implement these changes prior to the August 20, 2009 effective date," CUNA assured.

However, if the section applies also to general lines of credit, lines of credit associated with share draft and checking accounts, signature loans, and home equity lines of credit and--of particular concern to credit unions--to multi-featured, open-end lending programs, a longer compliance timeframe is imperative, CUNA urged.

CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica sent similar letters to Fed Governors Elizabeth Duke and Daniel Tarullo, who are the Fed board members responsible for consumer issues, and asked them to take a leadership role in urging a regulatory correction of the "urgent credit union issues."
Beyond the regulatory front, CUNA is also working with key federal lawmakers and their staffs to clarify whether it was the intent of Congress to apply section 106 beyond credit cards.
The section was added by the Senate shortly before its passage of the extensive credit card bill. Therefore the scope of the provision beyond credit cards was not fully appreciated until after it was signed by the President on May 22, and CUNA and other interested parties had no opportunity to raise questions or express concerns prior to enactment.

"We note that others have also not appreciated the broad scope of this provision. For example, on June 25th, the Office of Thrift Supervision published a summary of the CARD Act, which stated that Section 106 only applies to credit cards. This has undoubtedly created further confusion within the financial institutions industry," the CUNA letter pointed out.

Members of CUNA's Lending Council met with CUNA staff on Monday to provide additional information on the procedural burdens and costs that credit unions face in trying to devise ways to comply with the 21-day requirement applicable to their open-end lending programs.