The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has filed a renewed motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) in D.C. federal district court challenging the OCC’s authority to grant special purpose national bank (SPNB) charters to fintech companies.  The OCC had filed the motion several days earlier but was required to file a renewed motion to reduce the number of footnotes.  Except for adding a new statute of limitations argument, the arguments in the new memorandum in support of the motion track those made in the initial memorandum.

The OCC’s central argument for dismissal is that because it has not yet decided whether it will offer SPNB charters to companies that do not take deposits, the CSBS complaint should be dismissed for failing to present either a justiciable case or controversy under the U.S. Constitution or a reviewable final agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).  More specifically, the OCC argues that:

  •  CSBS cannot establish standing necessary to meet the Article III “case or controversy” requirement because the OCC has not yet taken any relevant action that could have a concrete effect on CSBS or its members—no SPNB charter has been issued to a non-deposit taking bank, the OCC has not received any applications to charter such a bank, no final procedures for processing such applications are in place, and the OCC’s public statements about the SPNB charter were part of ongoing policy development that is not final.
  • The actions taken by the OCC that are referred to as the “Nonbank Charter Decision” in the CSBS complaint are nothing more than a collection of non-final policy papers and solicitations for public input that do not represent a “final agency action” subject to review under the APA.
  • Because no final agency action has taken place, the court should conclude that the matter is not ripe for judicial review.

The OCC’s other arguments for dismissal include:

  • If the adoption of the amendments to the OCC’s chartering regulations (12 C.F.R. Section 5.20(e)(1)) that would allow the OCC to charter a bank that does not receive deposits constituted a final agency action, an APA cause of action accrued in January 2004 when the final rule became effective.  Since an APA action is subject to a six-year statute of limitations, the time for filing an APA challenge expired in January 2010.
  • Even if the court were to reach the merits of the validity of Section 5.20(e)(1), the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim because, under Chevron, the provision represents a reasonable interpretation of the undefined and ambiguous term “business of banking” in the National Bank Act.
  • CSBS’ argument that the OCC’s authority under the NBA to charter an entity to “commence the business of banking” does not give the OCC authority to charter a national bank that does not accept deposits is without merit for reasons that include contrary U.S. Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit authority.

On July 20, the Trump Administration posted its first Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. For the first time, the Agenda included a list of “inactive” actions to notify the public of regulations “still being reviewed or considered.” The list of 109 “inactive” actions includes the DOJ’s web accessibility rulemakings under Title II (local and state governments) and Title III (places of public accommodation) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

Businesses, including banks and financial services providers, have been awaiting a web accessibility rule since the DOJ issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) on the topic in 2010. The 2010 ANPRM stated the DOJ’s position that Title III of the ADA encompasses online content as places of public accommodation and officially put digital accessibility on the private sector’s radar. However, the DOJ’s efforts to promulgate formal regulations to that effect have continuously stalled, and the DOJ instead has used enforcement actions and settlement agreements to communicate its position to Title III entities. The lack of legislative and administrative action on web accessibility also has contributed to the circuit split on whether websites of private entities are subject to the ADA. Private litigants and advocacy groups have taken, and continue to take action to ensure that interactions with the public, including through websites and mobile applications, are accessible to people with disabilities.

Classification of the web accessibility rulemaking as “inactive” marks the continuation of a prolonged period in which business entities have faced a lack of clear guidance from the DOJ on the proper application of the ADA to websites. It also signals that businesses should continue to be prepared to defend against civil action, as advocacy groups and plaintiffs’ firms will likely work to fill the void left by the DOJ. Additionally, many states have anti-disability discrimination laws that mirror, or incorporate by reference, the ADA. Now that the DOJ seems to have backed away, we may see an increase in state Attorneys General acting to enforce such state laws to address the web accessibility issue.

Public accommodations are advised to stay abreast of the legal issues and practical considerations involved in managing risk in this evolving and increasingly litigious climate.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner has introduced a bill, S.1642, that would override the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding.  (In Madden, the Second Circuit ruled that a nonbank that purchases loans from a national bank could not charge the same rate of interest on the loan that Section 85 of the National Bank Act allows the national bank to charge.)  The bill would add the following language to Section 85 of the National Bank Act: “A loan that is valid when made as to its maximum rate of interest in accordance with this section shall remain valid with respect to such rate regardless of whether the loan is subsequently sold, assigned, or otherwise transferred to a third party, and may be enforced by such third party notwithstanding any State law to the contrary.”

This language is identical to language in the Financial CHOICE Act and the Appropriations Bill that is also intended to override Madden.  Like the Financial CHOICE Act and Appropriations Bill, the Senate bill would add the same language (with the word “section” changed to “subsection” when appropriate) to the provisions in the Home Owners’ Loan Act, the Federal Credit Union Act, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Act that provide rate exportation authority to, respectively, federal savings associations, federal credit unions, and state-chartered banks.

Unlike the CHOICE Act and Appropriations Bill, however, the Senate bill includes “findings” that appear intended to avoid the bill from being characterized as a change in the law.  The findings state that the valid-when-made doctrine is an “important and longstanding principle [that] derives from the common law and its application has been a cornerstone of United States banking law for nearly 200 years.”  They also explain why there is a need for the doctrine to be “reaffirmed soon by Congress.”

Like the adoption of the OCC’s proposal to create a fintech charter, the enactment of legislation reaffirming the valid-when-made doctrine would help some companies avoid Madden’s negative impact.  However, it would not help fintech companies deal with the risk of a court or enforcement authority concluding that the fintech company, and not its bank partner, is the “true lender.”  Treating a nonbank as the “true lender” would subject the nonbank to usury, licensing, and other limits to which its bank partner would not otherwise be subject.

As a result, even if “valid-when-made” legislation is enacted, there would still be a need for the OCC to confront the true lender risk directly, something we have previously urged it to do.  This could (and should) be accomplished through adoption of a rule: (1) providing that loans funded by a bank in its own name as creditor are fully subject to Section 85 and other provisions of the National Bank Act for their entire term; and (2) emphasizing that banks that make loans are expected to manage and supervise the lending process in accordance with OCC guidance and will be subject to regulatory consequences if and to the extent that loan programs are unsafe or unsound or fail to comply with applicable law.  (The rule should apply in the same way to federal savings banks and their governing statute, the Home Owners’ Loan Act.)  In other words, it is the origination of the loan by a supervised bank (and the attendant legal consequences if the loans are improperly originated), and not whether the bank retains the predominant economic interest in the loan, that should govern the regulatory treatment of the loan under federal law.

Effective July 18, 2017, the FDIC has adopted amendments to its Guidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations.  The FDIC proposed the amendments last August and received only two comment letters, one from a trade association and the other from a financial holding company.

The amendments are intended to provide institutions with broader avenues of redress with respect to material supervisory determinations and enhance consistency with the appeals process of other federal banking agencies.  The term “material supervisory determinations” is defined by the Reigle Act to include determinations relating to (1) examination ratings; (2) the adequacy of loan loss reserve provisions; and (3) classifications of loans that are significant to an institution.  The Guidelines list the types of determinations that constitute “material supervisory determinations.”   Under the Guidelines, an institution may not file an appeal to the Supervision Appeals Review Committee (SARC) unless it has first filed a timely request for review of a material supervisory determination with the Division Director.

The amendments expand the definition of “material supervisory determination” by allowing determinations regarding an institution’s level of compliance with a formal enforcement action to be appealed as a material supervisory determination.  However, if the FDIC determines that lack of compliance with an existing enforcement action requires further enforcement action, the proposed new enforcement action would not be appealable.  Matters requiring board attention are also added to the list of appealable material supervisory determinations.

The amendments remove decisions to initiate informal enforcement action (such as a Memorandum of Understanding) from the list of determinations that are not appealable and add such decisions to the list of appealable material supervisory determinations.

Other amendments include the following:

  • A clarification that a formal enforcement-related action would commence and become unappealable when the FDIC initiates a formal investigation under 12 U.S.C section 1820(c) or provides written notice to the institution of a recommended or proposed formal enforcement action under applicable statutes or published enforcement-related FDIC policies, including written notice of a referral to the Attorney General pursuant to the ECOA or a notice to HUD for ECOA or FHA violations.
  • An amendment providing that when an institution has filed an appeal of a material supervisory determination through the SARC process, the appeal will not be affected if the FDIC subsequently initiates a formal enforcement-related action or decision based on the same facts and circumstances as the appeal.
  • An amendment providing for the publication of annual reports on Division Directors’ decisions with respect to requests by institutions for review of material supervisory determinations.
  • An amendment providing that the current standard for review for SARC appeals also applies to Division-level reviews.

 

 

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika, in remarks on July 19 to the Exchequer Club, confirmed that the OCC is continuing to consider its proposal to allow financial technology (fintech) companies to apply for a special purpose national bank (SPNB) charter.  Since the departure of the SPNB proposal’s architect, former Comptroller Thomas Curry, who Mr. Noreika replaced, there has been considerable speculation as to what position the OCC would take on the proposal.

In his remarks, Acting Comptroller Noreika referenced the lawsuits filed by the New York Department of Financial Supervision and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors challenging the OCC’s authority to grant SPNB charters to fintech companies.  He indicated that in these lawsuits, the OCC plans to “vigorously” defend its authority to rely on its regulation at 12 C.F.R. section 5.20(e)(1) to grant SPNB charters to nondepository companies.  He also countered arguments that granting SPNB charters to fintech companies would disadvantage banks and create consumer protection risks.  (As we have previously observed, both lawsuits present a lack of ripeness and/or no case or controversy problem.)

At the same time, referring to the proposal as “a good idea that deserves the thorough analysis and the careful consideration we are giving it,” Mr. Noreika was noncommittal about what the OCC’s ultimate position would be.  Despite his statement that the OCC plans to defend its charter authority in the lawsuits, Mr. Noreika also stated that “the OCC has not determined whether it will actually accept or act upon applications from nondepository fintech companies for special purpose national bank charters that rely on [section 5.20].  And, to be clear, we have not received, nor are we evaluating, any such applications from nondepository fintech companies.  The OCC will continue to hold discussions with interested companies while we evaluate our options.”

Acting Comptroller Noreika suggested that fintech companies consider seeking a national bank charter by using other OCC authority “to charter full-service national banks and federal savings associations, as well as other long-established special purpose national banks, such as trust banks, banker’s banks, and other so-called CEBA credit card banks.”  According to Mr. Noreika, the state plaintiffs in the lawsuits had conceded that the OCC has such other authority.  Observing that many fintech business models may fit into the established categories of special purpose national banks “that do not rely on the contested provision  of regulation, section 5.20,” he stated that “we may well take [the states] up on their invitation to use these [other] authorities in the fintech-chartering context.” (emphasis included).

Many years ago, we were successful in converting a consumer finance company to a national bank and had no difficulty in obtaining OCC approval.  Nonbanks engaged in interstate consumer lending should consider conversion as an option since it enables the converted bank to (1) export throughout the country “interest” (as broadly defined under the OCC’s regulations) as permitted by its home state, (2) disregard non-interest state laws that impair materially the exercise of national bank powers, and (3) accept FDIC-insured deposits, which generally are the lowest cost source of funds.  Nonbanks engaged in non-financial activity or with affiliates engaged in such activity may be limited to SPNB conversions due to activity restrictions in the Bank Holding Company Act.

The OCC’s proposal to create a fintech charter would, if finalized, help some companies partially avoid the negative impact of the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding.  (In Madden, the Second Circuit ruled that a nonbank that purchases loans from a national bank could not charge the same rate of interest on the loan that Section 85 of the National Bank Act allows the national bank to charge.)  It would also help some fintech companies deal with the risk of a court or enforcement authority concluding that the fintech company, and not its bank partner, is the “true lender.”  Treating a nonbank as the “true lender” would subject the nonbank to usury, licensing, and other limits to which its bank partner would not otherwise be subject.

The “true lender” risk, which is not confined to the fintech space but can arise in many bank-partner-model arrangements, is a live issue.  In litigation currently ongoing in federal district court in Colorado, two state-chartered banks are seeking to enjoin enforcement actions brought by the Colorado Uniform Consumer Credit Code Administrator against the banks’ nonbank partners that market and service loans originated by the banks and purchase loans from the banks.  The Administrator has alleged that because the banks were not the “true lenders” on the loans sold to the banks’ partners, the loans are subject to Colorado law regarding interest, not the law of the states where the banks are located.

Unfortunately, as set forth in Alan Kaplinsky’s article for American Banker’s BankThink, the possibility that the OCC might charter SPNBs (or deposit-taking fintech national banks) does not fully address the Madden and “true lender” risks facing fintech companies, their bank partners, or other entities involved in “bank-model” lending programs.  The SPNB proposal has not been adopted and may be overturned in litigation.  It does not extend to non-fintech companies.  In many respects, it includes burdensome provisions.  And Madden risks would remain for loan purchasers.

We believe that recent developments, both in Colorado and elsewhere, highlight the need for the OCC to confront true lender and Madden risks directly.  This could (and should) be accomplished through adoption of a rule: (1) providing that loans funded by a bank in its own name as creditor are fully subject to Section 85 and other provisions of the National Bank Act for their entire term; and (2) emphasizing that banks that make loans are expected to manage and supervise the lending process in accordance with OCC guidance and will be subject to regulatory consequences if and to the extent that loan programs are unsafe or unsound or fail to comply with applicable law.  (The rule should apply in the same way to federal savings banks and their governing statute, the Home Owners’ Loan Act.)  In other words, it is the origination of the loan by a supervised bank (and the attendant legal consequences if the loans are improperly originated), and not whether the bank retains the predominant economic interest in the loan, that should govern the regulatory treatment of the loan under federal law.

 

 

 

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have filed suit against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seeking an injunction of the Department of Education’s indefinite postponement of the Obama Administration’s Borrower Defense Rule. While generally providing for loan forgiveness for borrowers deceived by postsecondary institutions, the Borrower Defense Rule also created a joint state-federal enforcement scheme by providing that any judgment obtained by a government agency against a postsecondary institution under state law would give rise to a borrower defense to loan repayment. The Rule also established that a state civil investigative demand against a school whose conduct resulted in a borrower defense qualifies as notice permitting the Secretary to commence a collection action against the school.

As part of her promise to conduct a “regulatory reset” Secretary DeVos announced last month that the Department of Education was postponing the July 1, 2017 effective date of the Rule “until further notice” and establishing a negotiated rulemaking committee to revise the Rule. The announcement came on the heels of a California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) lawsuit to bar implementation of the Rule. CAPPS additionally filed, but later withdrew, a motion for preliminary injunction against the Rule’s prohibition on mandatory arbitration and class action waiver agreements. Eight states and the District of Columbia, each also a party to the latest lawsuit, previously filed a motion to intervene in the CAPPS lawsuit in support of the Rule. Secretary DeVos and CAPPS have entered memorandums in opposition to the states’ motion. The states must file their replies by July 26, 2017.

In a press release, the Department stated the indefinite postponement was “[d]ue to pending litigation challenging the [Borrower Defense Rule] regulations,” and lawful under Section 705 of the Administration Procedures Act (APA), which provides that an agency “may postpone the effective date of action taken by it, pending judicial review.” In the suit they have filed, the AGs claim that the postponement of the Rule injures their residents by depriving state authorities of increased enforcement powers, eliminating improved remedies for violations of law, and removing deterrence of misconduct by educational institutions.

The four causes of action generally allege that the postponement operates as a summary rescission of the rule in violation of Section 706 the APA. More specifically, the AGs assert that:

  • The Department failed to follow the APA’s formal notice and comment process, which is required when the Department delays the effective date of a final regulation for the purpose of substantive rulemaking, amendment, or rescission of the final regulation.
  • The Department’s Delay Notice does not comply with or even acknowledge the legal test applicable when the Department seeks a stay of its own regulations pending litigation, which requires: 1) a likelihood of prevailing on the merits; 2) an absence of delay will irreparably harm the Department; 3) that others will not be harmed by the delay; and 4) that the public interest requires a delay.
  • The Department has failed to provide justification for the postponement adequately related to the existence or consequences of the pending litigation. Specifically, the Department’s notice published in the Federal Register indicates a complete reconsideration of the rule (while the CAPPS litigation only challenges a few provisions) and the Department claims federal cost-savings which are unrelated to the CAPPS litigation.
  • The Department has failed to offer a reasoned analysis for reversing or departing from a previous policy position, which is required when a Delay Notice operates as an amendment or rescission to an existing rule.

Section 706 of the APA requires a reviewing court to set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be “without observance of procedure required by law” or “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

As part of a previous post, we discussed the ability of a successor administrator to unilaterally stay the compliance date of a final rule under the APA. In Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, the D.C. Circuit vacated an EPA stay of its rule concerning methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. Before a final compliance date of June 3, 2017, several industry associations filed a petition with the EPA seeking reconsideration. The new EPA administrator issued a 90-day stay of the compliance date and announced that the Agency was reconsidering the rule. The D.C. Circuit found that the stay was “tantamount to amending or revoking a rule” and rejected the Agency’s reliance on its broad discretion to reconsider its own rules without complying with the APA’s formal notice and comment requirements.

The Department of Education also recently announced its plan to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to revise the Gainful Employment Rule. This Obama Administration rule became effective in July 2015 and required that schools make disclosures such as graduation rates, earnings of graduates, and student debt amounts. The press release criticized the rule for “unfairly and arbitrarily limit[ing] students’ ability to pursue certain types of higher education and career training programs.” The effective date has been delayed one year to July 1, 2018. The Department has also provided a six-month extension—to January 1, 2018—for compliance with disclosure requirements for fees associated with school-sponsored debit cards and other financial products marketed on their campuses.

On July 5, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District Columbia, in the lawsuit filed in 2014 challenging “Operation Choke Point” — a federal  enforcement initiative involving various  agencies, including the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Reserve (Fed), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency —  denied the  agencies’ motions to dismiss and/or for summary judgment and permitted the payday lender-plaintiffs’ due process claims to proceed.

Initiated in 2012, Operation Choke Point targeted banks serving online payday lenders and other companies that have raised regulatory or “reputational” concerns.  In June 2014, the national trade association for the payday lending industry and Advance America, a payday lender, initiated the action against the FDIC, Fed, and the OCC.  The lawsuit alleged that certain actions taken by the agencies as part of Operation Choke Point violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and that Operation Choke Point violated their due process rights.  The court granted the agencies’ motion to dismiss the defendants’ APA claim and, although ruling that the due process claim could proceed, subsequently dismissed the trade association as a party for lack of standing.  Following the addition of  six new payday lenders to the complaint, the agencies moved to dismiss the new payday lenders’ due process claim for lack of standing and failure to state a claim, and moved for summary judgment as to all plaintiffs on the basis that they cannot show that they suffered a deprivation of liberty without due process.

The Court rejected the agencies’ arguments, holding that the newly-added plaintiffs had established both standing and a plausible claim for relief, and concluding that the agencies were not entitled to judgment on any of the plaintiffs’ due process claims.  First, the Court rejected the agencies’ attempt to challenge the new plaintiffs’ allegations of future harm — i.e., their potential for future loss of access to the banking system, and potential preclusion from the payday lending industry — finding that they demonstrated the requisite elements of standing, and stated a plausible claim for relief, by alleging that they previously lost bank accounts as a result of Operation Choke Point, and that they will continue to do so if the agencies’ actions continue.

The Court also held that the agencies’ were not entitled to summary judgment on any of the plaintiffs’ due process claims.  The court rejected the agencies’ argument that plaintiffs could not show a due process violation where they “continue to access the banking system and remain quite profitable.”  According to the court, the agencies had not definitively demonstrated that plaintiffs would “not be put out of business by the continued regulatory pressure from Federal Defendants.”

The Court was also unmoved by the agencies’ argument that plaintiffs “are able to pursue other lines of business.”  In support of that argument, the agencies cited cases finding no due process violation where the plaintiffs were barred from conducting business with the government, but remained free to transact with private individuals and entities.  The court held that these cases, which distinguished between a person’s ability to sell services to the government versus one’s ability to sell services at all,  did “little to support [the agencies’] argument that the Due Process Clause tolerates the destruction of an entire line of Plaintiffs’ business, so long as there are other lines of business they can pursue.” Citing to the Plaintiffs’ Opposition, the Court observed that “it would be of little consolation to an attorney, driven from his practice by improper governmental stigma, that McDonalds is still hiring.”

Despite the change to a Republican Administration, lawmakers continue to raise concerns that Operation Choke Point remains in operation.  In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions dated July 6, 2017, Republican Senators Mike Crapo and Thom Tillis stated that “[w]hile many would claim that this program has ceased to operate, this does not appear to be the case as we continue to receive complaints that indicate the program is still in effect.”  The Senators asked “that DOJ review all options available to ensure lawful businesses are able to continue to operate without fear of significant financial consequences, which should include taking the additional step of issuing a Statement of Enforcement Policy that Operation Choke Point is no longer in effect and that administrative subpoenas issued pursuant to DOJ’s civil investigative authority under [FIRREA] may be issued only where there is an articulable suspicion of illegal activity being conducted or facilitated by the intended recipient of the subpoena.”

Legislation has also been proposed in the House, with Republican Congressman Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-Mo.) introducing a bill (H.R. 2706) that seeks to prevent future recurrences of Operation Choke Point by limiting the authority of banking regulators and the DOJ.

On July 12, 2017, a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Examining Legislative Proposals to Provide Targeted Regulatory Relief to Community Financial Institutions.”  The Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit will examine nine bills that include bills that would: (1) amend the FDCPA, including by classifying debt buyers as “debt collectors” and subjecting debt collectors for federal agencies to FDCPA requirements, (2) require the GAO to study debt collection practices at the federal, state, and local levels; (3) repeal the CFPB’s UDAAP enforcement authority and raise the CFPB’s large depository institutions supervisory threshold to institutions with assets of $50 billion or more, and (4) amend various TILA mortgage-related provisions such as escrow and appraisal requirements.  All nine bills are described in more detail in the Subcommittee Memorandum.

The witnesses scheduled to appear at the hearing are:

  • Robert Fisher, President & CEO of Tioga State Bank on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America
  • Rick Nichols, President & CEO of River Region Credit Union on behalf of the Missouri Credit Union Association
  • J.W. Verret, Senior Affiliated Scholar and Associate Professor, George Mason University School of Law

 

 

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) released an updated version of its guidance on complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) on June 21, 2017. Companies that collect personal information from children under 13 years of age need to comply with COPPA. To help companies with COPPA compliance, the FTC’s guidance presents a six-step plan:

  • Step 1: Determine whether your company is a website or online service that collects personal information from kids under 13;
  • Step 2: Post a privacy policy that complies with COPPA;
  • Step 3: Notify parents directly before collecting personal information from their kids;
  • Step 4: Get parents’ verifiable consent before collecting personal information from their kids;
  • Step 5: Honor parents’ ongoing rights with respect to personal information collected from their kids; and
  • Step 6: Implement reasonable procedures to protect the security of kids’ personal information.

The updated guidance makes two important changes. First, the FTC clarifies that “website or online service” includes Internet of Things devices as well as connected toys and other products intended for children that collect personal information, like voice recordings or geolocation data.

Second, the updated guidance provides two additional methods by which businesses can obtain verifiable consent from parents to collect personal information from children:

  • Parents can answer a series of knowledge-based challenge questions that would be difficult for someone other than the parent to answer; or
  • Parents can provide a picture of a driver’s license or other photo ID which is then compared to a second photo submitted by the parent using facial recognition technology.

On July 19, the Federal Trade Commission will hold a workshop in San Antonio titled the “2017 Military Consumer Financial Workshop: Protecting Those Who Protect Our Nation.” The FTC has uploaded an agenda and list of panelists for the workshop. Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen will be in attendance and deliver the event’s opening remarks. Describing the focus of the forum, Ohlhausen commented that “[h]elping servicemembers and veterans avoid fraud, learn about their legal rights and remedies, and find resources that protect them in the financial area is a top priority.”

Topics to be discussed include auto finance, student lending, installment credit practices, debt collection, legal rights and remedies, financial literacy, and identity theft. The FTC expects the workshop to draw participants from a wide range of spheres, including all service branches, military consumer advocates, consumer groups, legal services providers and clinics serving the military, and representatives from government and industry.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will also be tweeted live from the FTC’s Military Consumer Twitter account (@Milconsumer) using the hashtag #MilFinancial Workshop.