In Major TCPA Win for Plaintiffs, Ninth Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of Autodialer

In a major victory for plaintiffs pursuing claims related to robocalls and texts, a federal appellate court panel has adopted an expansive view of the legal definition of an autodialer.  Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, calls made via an “automatic telephone dialing system,” or ATDS, without the receiver’s consent can carry statutory penalties between $500 and $1,500 per violation.  On Thursday a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that under the definition of an ATDS outlined in the statute, the devices can include autodialers “with the capacity to dial stored numbers automatically” rather than just those that are able to generate numbers randomly or sequentially.

Freezing your credit is now free

You can now add credit-report freezes to the list of best things in life that are free. As of Friday, consumers won’t have to pay a fee to credit-reporting firms when they want to use a freeze to help protect themselves from identity theft. They would, however, need to contact each of the big three bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — to cover all their bases. “I think this is a good partial step,” said John Ulzheimer, a credit expert and president of The Ulzheimer Group in Atlanta.

5 cyber security basics you can’t afford to ignore

The recently discovered vulnerability involving fax lines on HP multi-function devices, termed Faxploit, are a reminder of the importance of fundamental security practices.  I did something a few weeks ago I rarely do: ignore a report about a significant vulnerability. Check Point Software released a very detailed analysis about the possibility of a network being attacked via a fax line. Perhaps it was disbelief, or alert fatigue, but I remember thinking that if a bad actor could attack a network using just a fax line, it was time for me to retire and take up chicken farming. As such, I ignored it for a few days.

Banking: Wells Fargo, Chime, Empower banks fight for millennial accounts

Are you between 21 and 37? Please bank with us.  That’s the message millennials are hearing as the battle between the big banks and fintech companies for their hearts and deposits heats up. The newest entrant in the fray – personal finance app Empower – upped the ante this week by rolling out its mobile bank services, including a fee-free checking account with rewards and a savings account that earns significant larger yields than at the big banks. The move comes shortly after Chase began dangling 60,000 rewards points to get more well-heeled young people to sign up for a premium checking account.

Maryland and Texas Men Indicted for Alleged $364 Million Ponzi Scheme—One of the Largest Ever Charged in Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted three men on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering, arising from an alleged $364 million investment fraud scheme.  The indictment was returned under seal on September 11, 2018, and unsealed on September 18, 2018, upon the arrests of the defendants.  Charged in the indictment are:

NAFCU retells bureau: Consumer complaints shouldn’t be public

NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger, in a letter Wednesday, agreed with Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s position that the bureau is not statutorily required to “run a Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government.”   “Publication of unverified consumer narratives can have long-lasting effects on a credit union’s reputation, resulting in fewer members, market share, and potentially resulting in more time-consuming examinations,” Berger wrote as he reiterated that the bureau should remove its consumer complaint database from public view.

Mulvaney plans to move some consumer bureau staff to new Atlanta office

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) plans to relocate a group of employees from Washington, D.C., to a new satellite office in Atlanta in an effort to reduce costs.   Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney is seeking to open the regional office to host a small number of analysts and managers who work with agency examiners assigned to financial institutions in the southeast United States, according to a senior agency official familiar with the plans. The staffers would be moved from a CFPB office in downtown Washington, near the bureau’s headquarters, to a building in Atlanta owned by the General Services Administration.

As industry shifts to technology, BMO Harris Bank is cutting face-to-face mortgage lenders

BMO Harris Bank is eliminating most mortgage loan officers who meet customers face to face and now directs people who want to buy a house or refinance to its centralized mortgage call center.   The Chicago-based bank said the move — and a new online mortgage application platform coming soon — reflects changing customer behavior trends and actually offers time and ease benefits for mortgage applicants.

Two-thirds of Amazon Prime members would try banking with the retailer, according to Bain study

Banks, you’ve been warned.  About two-thirds of Amazon Prime members would try a free online bank account from the e-commerce giant, according to a report from consultant Bain & Co. That’s considerably higher than the percentage of regular Amazon customers (43 percent) or non-Amazon customers (37 percent) who would try an account, indicating strong loyalty to the Prime bundle of services.  Expectations have been high since it was reported in March that Amazon is in talks with banks including J.P. Morgan Chase and Capital One to create a checking-account-like product for its customers.

New research report on the geography of credit invisibility

Creditworthy consumers can face difficulties accessing credit if they lack a credit record that is treated as “scorable” by widely used credit scoring models. These consumers include those who are “credit invisible,” meaning that they do not have a credit record maintained by one of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (NCRAs). They also include those who have a credit record that contains either too little information or information that is deemed too old to be reliable. The Bureau published two previous Data Points about consumers with limited credit histories. The first, Credit Invisibles, estimated the number and demographic characteristics of consumers who were credit invisible or had an unscorable credit record. The second, Becoming Credit Visible, explored the ways in which consumers establish credit records.