From: Dennis Guenzler [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 12:08 PM
Subject: EGRPRA Review of Consumer Protection Lending Related Rules
151 N Main St
Elizabeth, IL 61028
April 16, 2004
As a community banker, I greatly welcome the regulators' effort
critical problem of regulatory burden. Community bankers work hard
establish the trust and confidence with our customers that are fundamental
to customer service, but consumer protection rules frequently interfere
with our ability to serve our customers. The community banking industry
is slowly being crushed under the cumulative weight of regulatory
something that must be addressed by Congress and the regulatory agencies
before it is too late. This is especially true for consumer protection
lending rules, which though well intentioned, unnecessarily increase
for consumers and prevent banks from serving customers. While each
individual requirement may not be burdensome itself, the cumulative
of consumer lending rules, by driving up costs and slowing processing
for loans from legitimate lenders, helps create a fertile ground
predatory lenders. It's time to acknowledge that consumer protection
regulations are not only a burden to banks but are also a problem
Truth in Lending (Federal Reserve Regulation Z)
Right of Rescission. One of the most burdensome requirements is
three-day right of rescission under Regulation Z. Rarely, if ever,
consumer exercise the right. Consumers resent having to wait three
additional days to receive loan proceeds after the loan is closed,
they often blame the bank for "withholding" their funds.
Even though this
is a statutory requirement, inflexibility in the regulation making
difficult to waive the right of rescission aggravates the problem.
outright repealed, depository institutions should at least be given
greater latitude to allow customers to waive the right.
Finance Charges. Another problem under Regulation Z is the definition
the finance charge. Assessing what must be included in - or excluded
- the finance charge is not easily determined, especially fees and
levied by third parties. And yet, the calculation of the finance
is critical in properly calculating the annual percentage rate (APR).
This process desperately needs simplification so that all consumers
understand the APR and bankers can easily calculate it.
Credit Card Loans. Resolution of billing-errors within the given
limited timeframes for credit card disputes is not always practical.
rules for resolving billing-errors are heavily weighted in favor
consumer, making banks increasingly subject to fraud as individuals
how to game the system, even going so far as to do so to avoid legitimate
bills at the expense of the bank. There should be increased penalties
frivolous claims and more responsibility expected of consumers.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (Federal Reserve Regulation B)
Regulation B creates a number of compliance problems and burdens
banks. Knowing when an application has taken place, for instance,
often difficult because the line between an inquiry and an application
not clearly defined.
Spousal Signature. Another problem is the issue of spousal signatures.
The requirements make it difficult and almost require all parties
their spouses - come into the bank personally to complete documents.
makes little sense as the world moves toward new technologies that
require physical presence to apply for a loan.
Adverse Action Notices. Another problem is the adverse action notice.
would be preferable if banks could work with customers and offer
alternative loan products if they do not qualify for the type of
which they originally applied. However, that may then trigger
requirements to supply adverse action notices. For example, it may
difficult to decide whether an application is truly incomplete or
it can be considered "withdrawn." A straightforward rule
on when an
adverse action notice must be sent - that can easily be understood
should be developed.
Other Issues. Regulation B's requirements also complicate other
of customer relations. For example, to offer special accounts for
seniors, a bank is limited by restrictions in the regulation. And,
important, reconciling the regulation's requirements not to maintain
information on the gender or race of a borrower and the need to maintain
sufficient information to identify a customer under section 326 of
PATRIOT Act is difficult and needs better regulatory guidance.
Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) (Federal Reserve Regulation
Exemptions. The HMDA requirements are the one area subject to the
comment period that does not provide specific protections for individual
consumers. HMDA is primarily a data-collection and reporting requirement
and therefore lends itself much more to a tiered regulatory requirement.
The current exemption for banks with less than $33 million in assets
far too low and should be increased to at least $250 million.
Volume of Data. The volume of the data that must be collected and
reported is clearly burdensome. Ironically, at a time when regulators
reviewing burden, the burden associated with HMDA data collection
recently increased substantially. Consumer activists are constantly
clamoring for additional data and the recent changes to the requirements
acceded to their demands without a clear cost-benefit analysis. All
consumers ultimately pay for the data collection and reporting in
costs, and regulators should recognize that.
Certain data collection requirements are difficult to apply in practice
and therefore add to regulatory burden and the potential for error,
assessing loans against HOEPA (the Home Owners Equity Protection
reporting rate spreads; determining the date the interest rate on
was set; determining physical property address or census tract information
in rural areas, etc.
The current flood insurance regulations create difficulties with
customers, who often do not understand why flood insurance is required
that the federal government - not the bank - imposes the requirement.
government needs to do a better job of educating consumers to the
and requirements of flood hazard insurance. Flood insurance requirements
should be streamlined and simplified to be understandable.
It would be much easier for banks, especially community banks that
limited resources, to comply with regulatory requirements if requirements
were based on products and all rules that apply to a specific product
consolidated in one place. Second, regulators require banks to provide
customers with understandable disclosures and yet do not hold themselves
to the same standard in drafting regulations that can be easily understood
by bankers. Finally, examiner training needs to be improved to ensure
that regulatory requirements are properly - and uniformly - applied.
The volume of regulatory requirements facing the banking industry
presents a daunting task for any institution, but severely saps the
resources of community banks. We need help immediately with this
before it is too late. Community bankers are in close proximity to
customers, understand the special circumstances of the local community
provide a more responsive level of service than megabanks. However,
community banks cannot continue to compete effectively and serve
customers and communities without some relief from the crushing burden
regulation. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this critical
Dennis M Guenzler