FIRST WAS “OBAMACARE” THEN IT WAS THE “FISCAL CLIFF” AND THE “TAX STANDOFF” THEN FOLLOWED “DODD-FRANK AND THE CFPB CONSPIRACY”


Post Date: 9/13/2013

FIRST WAS “OBAMACARE” THEN IT WAS THE “FISCAL CLIFF” AND THE “TAX STANDOFF” THEN FOLLOWED “DODD-FRANK AND THE CFPB CONSPIRACY” | ECKLEY AND ASSOCIATES | AN INTERSTATE LAW FIRM

“UDAAP?!”

By:

J. ROBERT ECKLEY

Real Estate and Brokerage Attorney, CFPB Expert

August 1, 2013

© 2013, THE ONLINE LAWSTORE, LLC

THIS MONTHLY PUBLICATION IS ABSOLUTELY FREE
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INTRODUCTION: FORGET THE “KATRINA” OF OBAMACARE AND THE “SANDY” OF THE FISCAL CLIFF: THE “UDAAP” COMETH, NOW!

So it is assumed that by now the entire world is aware that on January 1, 2014 at 12:01 a.m. EST, The Perfect Economic Storm is due to hit the shores of our lives, businesses and portfolios? That’s the Category 4 Financial Hurricane that starts enforcement of the harsh new consumer credit and financial practice rules of the Dodd-Frank Act. The first big gusts will be devastatingly cross-winded by the almost omnipotent and potentially rapacious citations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau coupled with a driving flood of Fed-assured interest increases in the background, all aggravated by the banshee-like winds of higher payroll taxes and the swirling miasma of Obamancare. Together, the boiling morass means “….RUN FOR COVER! The ‘Economic Gale of the Millennium’ Is Aimed at our bow….!” What it means more in the vernacular is that this turbulent voyage ain’t over yet, not by a long shot! So batten down your 2014 financial and professional hatches and advise your clients and customers to do the same! Part X of “The ‘Recovery’ that Wasn’t and Won’t Be“ is already reddening the morning horizon, beyond! And if that howling holocaust doesn’t sink you, the entirely unprecedented legal whirlpool generated where it converges will…...and it’s so big and unique it now has its own name. They call it “UDAAP!”

Well, now that one’s attention is drawn and before gapping into the yawning black hole of UDAAP, it’s time for some background. Like: “How on earth did the Economic Ship sail into this tumultuous cauldron of red ink?” Pitifully, it was by deliberately sailing directly into the headwinds of its storm front, rudder-set and locked for the eye of it for some time. It’s just that no one listened to the frantic piping of alarm coming from the crow’s nest—those berated economists who have been steadily warning that the false, short-term “Bull hype” of the recent mini-bubble market which the uninformed are partying over has no support or sustainability at all from the underlying, long-term sinking “Bear numbers” of the deeper more turbulent economic sea. And with the above new regulatory churning of 2014, it won’t. The din of the misbegotten Champaign party on the sales deck naively celebrating false price increases as the “Start of the Big Recovery” is in fact feting only the “calm before the next economic ‘Sandy.’” The music and cheers are just too loud to hear the emergency sirens howling.

Does anyone remember a former captain of a similar fiscal ship that went down at sea in 2007, Fed Chairman Greenspan, who had a phrase for these moments of baseless, doomed market joy—when short-term market acquisition prices raise well beyond sustainable yields? He called it “irrational exuberance”. On the last voyage on this precise, irrational sea chart bearing, the Ship of Hulking Price smashed into the tsunami force of Real Yield, exploded the Big Bubble of its hull and promptly sunk, drowning most of the citizen passengers and the professional crew and almost the world.

That’s the background. Now for the present: The market, amazingly innocent of past lessons, is all partying on the equally doomed oceanliner, the Bubble II. No one seems even to have noticed or taken any significance from the fact that that its Captain, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, his already announced his plans to lash the wheel down heading dead into the abyss and then to lower his personal lifeboat and bail this vessel precisely on January 1, 2014, when, as noted above, the really big first wave of bubble-popping regulation and rate increases are due to hit the prow.

Enough of history and of present bearings. Time for some instruction on the use of the life vests and flares. We’ll need them.

UDAAP WAS ON THE MAP NO ONE WANTED TO READ

Over the last several years since Dodd-Frank Act (“DFA”) was made U.S. law in 2010, this author has often been chided by political elements for even thinking that “anything as outrageous as Dodd-Frank” would survive this long without repeal. The naysayers predicted that Title X of it—enabling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) to start a militant enforcement of it by hammering on the already-weakened but recovering mortgage, title insurance, real estate and banking industries to “radically modernize them” (with what is felt by the industries to be a regulatory shot to the head)—was “so preposterous and un-American it would never leave committee.” This author felt the witch-burning reactionary zeal behind the Great-Recession-fed manifestos of the DFA/CFPB Movement was such an overwhelming force of political nature that it could not be stopped and, hence, this author continued to write about coming (and crushing) compliance issues under the laws as a “last call to don the life-preservers” before it was too late. Some listened and will likely float out of this. Many did not and will drown.

As it turned out, assuming the DFA/CFPB was “absolutely going to happen” was the right call and that the earlier warning of its ability to slash and maim was not “crying wolf”. Here we are now several years later and even after the all of the dogfights in Congress when it was introduced, the castigations heard of its passage in the immediately past presidential elections and the acrimony over implementation it after passage feeding endless debates and filibusters to this very day, the DFA/CFPB is not only un-repealed (and no where even near it), but the CFPB is instead so confident that God’s hand will protect the Holy Mission that it is not watching its legislative backside anymore and is instead busy generating fierce new implementation rules faster than one can say “New Testament!.” It has its hooks, wracks and cleavers arranged and gleaming for the January opening of what the industry pundits fear will prove to be the new Regulatory Star Chamber! There is some truth to those rumors and as one will be able to see, below, one may not have to go any further than UDAAP to become a Believer.

UDAAP IN A NUTSHELL

Now to the “New Orthodoxy.” Continuing with the focus of the FDA/CFPB article series (you may see others at www.eckleylaw.com under the “Archives”) there is an entirely new and extremely deadly sin—perhaps the most toxic in the poison chest--for use by the CFPB and consumers against the real estate brokers, title insurers and escrows, mortgage brokers, originators, bankers and others doing business with the consumer directly or indirectly (including lawyers) over whom jurisdiction is in one way or another had. The new sin is minted from thin air by the DFA/CFPB and by the vagueness of its definition and the devastation of its blow, it’s without question the new Grim Reaper for the industry.

It’s called “UDAAP.” UDAAP is a progeny of Section 5(a) of the rules of the Federal Trade Commission, now falling under the jurisdiction of the CFPB by mandate of the DFA. The original FTC rule prohibits deceptive acts and practices in commerce. As adopted by the DFA/CFPB, it’s scope has been expanded to add also “abusive acts” in consumer financial matters which expands the regulation and regulatory discretion to define prohibited conduct, considerably, due for the most part to it vagueness. In addition, since the CFPB also retains jurisdiction over the FTC, the FTC rule reaching to the larger definition of all “commerce” is much wider than “financial matters” and so the truest extent of the new definition and reach is likely into all “commerce” is obviously both large and unclear. In practice, with little guidance or precedent to go by, the UDAAP sin is probably going to mean engaging in acts or omissions which the consumer or the CFPB (or a judge or jury) would consider after the fact as “unfair, deceptive or abusive” towards the consumer in any financial or business matter in which a consumer is directly or indirectly involved. Wow!

Yes, UDAAP is as ambiguous as that and the only thing clear is the draconian penalties it exacts against the alleged sinners for violation of it, as will be seen, below. A closer analysis of some of the components of UDAAP applications follow, but as it is new, complete clarity is elusive and it is in that fuzziness that much risk for the industry lurks.

WHO IS THE “UDAAP VICTIM” BEING PROTECTED?

First, who is in the “sinner class” being regulated? Under Title X, the CFPB regulates “covered persons,” which is any person who offers to or provides a consumer financial product or service to the consumer or one who provides a service or product used in the consumer financial product or service by the foregoing person. That’s a pretty wide potential class! Well, then who does one have to sin against to be this new kind of “bad guy”? Consumers. Consumers in every walk of their consumption of financial services or products. Specifically or generally sin against them in course of such a relationship and one is in legal Twilight Zone and in the black hole of UDAAP.

Common examples of applicable consumer scenarios would be an owner or buyer buying or selling residential real estate or the purchase or lease of a car or Mom and Pop buying a big screen at Sears for their home, or using a personal credit card for personal expenses or purchases, or applying for a loan with a bank or mortgage broker or banker, or the use of a real estate broker or appraiser in connection with a consumer-financed transaction, involvements of title or escrow entities associated with financing for non-commercial use or buying into a personal investment, real estate venture or purchasing stocks or bonds or applying for a personal loan and any dispute on any of the foregoing with a real estate or mortgage broker, originator, bank or credit union, or servicer and including the use of professional advice on any of the foregoing from a broker, appraiser, investment advisor or lawyer….and more. As one can see, the “definition” comes from the acts and when one turns to the acts, it is a big, endless list of scenarios and “culprits,” limited only by the imagination.

So who comes calling with The Book in the left hand and a ticket to the dunking chair in the right? UDAAP violations are actionable either by CFPB or the state Attorney Generals or various agencies of the federal and state government or all of them at once. But it is also actionable by the single consumer or consumer class, who can sue civilly for a violation of it (the dynamics of the civil suit is for another article, though, suffice it to say that the violations have standing as standards of care or as “malpractice” or “bad faith” per se).

WHO IS THE “BAD GUY” UDAAP SEEKS TO SMITE?

Second, who is the “sinner?” Much of that was stated by example, above, but the criterion can be sharpened a bit. Start again with the CFPB. Under Title X, the CFPB regulates all “covered persons.” “Covered persons” who can be whacked for UDAAP sins are of two broad classes as the CFPB has come to indicate by its rules. The first class as noted above is any person or entity who themselves commits UDAAP while involved in rendering any consumer product or service to a consumer or who themselves commits UDAAP while providing a product or service to some other person or entity who provides a consumer product or service to a consumer. That net is broad enough to drag in almost anyone connected with, for example, a typical residential sale or consumer loan financing transaction or whose charges end up on a HUD-1, but, less obviously, certainly even commercial brokers who sell investment in any venture to consumers and literally all of the retail stock brokering communities! In some cases, it’s the product that defines. In others, it’s the state of the customer or client. But the liability gets more extensive.

The second class of UDAAP sinner is all others who were part of the enterprise in which the prohibited UDAAP act was actually committed by one member, whether or not the included party actually itself committed it. For example, “innocent” Banks, mortgage and real estate brokers are likely liable for the UDAAP violation of the settlement agent (i.e. title and escrow company) who closed the deal they all participated in…..and vice versa as to every vendor spoke in that transactional wheel. So, yes, there is even sin by association and without direct commission! Who said the CFPB was not One-with-God? After all, the CFPB has now created “Original Sin,” inherent sin by birth as a “covered person” and without even personally committing it!

HOW DOES THE CFPB GET INVOLVED?

Third, where does the CFPB come in? Title X of the act says it is unlawful for anyone who provides a consumer financial product or service (stretched as above) to engage in UDAAP and in the same Title X, the CFPB is given power to issue rules that identify and sanction these types of acts or practices among the target community (above) and those dealing with the target community. This means that the CFPB can declare certain acts as unfair or abusive UDAAP violations per se and also that it can prosecute acts or omissions on a one-by-one basis that it deems a UDAAP violation. So far, it has not pronounced more than a few “categories” of malefaction as UDAAP violations, but that means nothing to enforcement. It could spontaneously and for the first time without any prior rulemaking or other notice announce an act as a UDAAP violation in the very citation enforcing it against a target person or group! This authority is, then, broad, ambiguous and endless. It is capable of immense abuse by the CFPB and others. Hence, fear it. And that is probably the intent of the CFPB, entirely.

WHAT IS THE UDAAP “SIN” AND WHO DECIDES SO?

Fourth, there are “suspect categories” of act which will most likely get UDAAP attention but they are sketchy. Title X defines an “unfair act or practice” as an act that : “1) causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers, which is not reasonably avoidable by consumers and 2) such substantial injury is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.” The “abusive act or practice” that is outlawed by both these tests is then further tested as one that “takes unreasonable advantage of: a) a lack of understanding on the part of the consumer of the material risks, costs or conditions of the product or service; b) the inability of the consumer to protect the interests of the consumer in selecting or using a consumer financial product or serve; or c) the reasonable reliance by the consumer on a covered person to act in the interest of the consumer.”

UDAAP does not, then, require any intent to cause harm or to violate consumer laws in order to violate the UDAAP provision. In fact, the sinner could bring the CFPB down on them even when a specific consumer financial law is not specifically violated, which seems counter to every preceding part of the definition. See, for example when this article gets to it in a moment, the RESPA example below.

THE UDAAP SIN IS A LOT EASIER TO COMMIT THAN “THE USUAL NO-NOS”: “THE FREEMAN CASE LESSON”

It is probable that violations of RESPA, TILA and HOEPA (see prior articles, www.eckleylaw.com) will all certainly be UDAAP violations, per se, but it is also possible that conduct not violating them is still UDAAP. According to the CFPB guides, each alleged case of UDAAP is actually to be tested on its own as to whether it is “unfair, deceptive or abusive.” That tends to mean in practice that after clear violations of other statutes already on the books like RESPA, no one can that an act found to be in compliance with RESPA in a RESPA-governed complaint is not still a UDAAP violation that the CFPB will add on.

Here is an example of how that could work out: As started in the discussion, let’s use a hypothetical RESPA violation and the lesson of a very recent and important case. RESPA makes it illegal to split a settlement service fee when a service is not performed and, accordingly, in Freeman v Quicken Loans Inc. (No. 10-1042), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the charge for the settlement service must be divided between two more persons in order for there to be a violation and that there was no violation of RESPA when it was not. But wait. Don’t celebrate yet. One could be out of the woods on RESPA but not under UDAAP. For example, if a settlement service provider (like an escrow) charged a fee but did not provide an actual service or perhaps provided the service but marked up the fee, under Freeman there wouldn’t be a RESPA violation, but there could nonetheless be a UDAAP violation if the CFPB considered the provider’s actions to be “unfair or deceptive” (as the guides tend to suggest the CFPB would).

….AND THE PUNISHMENT IS FAR WORSE!

So If the CFPB or state AG decides to file a lawsuit for a UDAAP violation, what are the remedies (and there are arguments that all other than the below administrative fines and publicity would also be appropriate remedies in a civil action)? An ominous lot of them! There is the authority to order:

  • Rescission of the offending deal;
  • Refund of money or the return of real property on the deal;
  • Restitution in the deal;
  • Disgorgement or compensation for unjust enrichment obtained from the deal;
  • Payment of damages;
  • Public notification (vilification) regarding the violation;
  • Place limits on the activities or function of the individual or company; and
  • Levy civil money penalties.

The civil money penalties that the CFPB, AG and other agencies can impose include:

  • $5,000 each day for a violation of the consumer protection statutes;
  • $25,000 each day if the violation is reckless; and
  • $1 million per day for any violation that is committed knowingly.

UDAAP HAS ALREADY STARTED TO WHIPSAW OTHER SEALANES CLOSER TO HOME: “THE ADSS LESSON”

The CFPB has already used its authority against a debt-relief company (serving short sales, modifications, work-outs, deeds-in-lieu, etc.). The CFPB filed a complaint on May 30, 2013, in federal district court, alleging that American Debt Settlement Solutions Inc. (ADSS), a Florida debt-relief company, charged consumers illegal upfront fees for debt-relief services that, in many cases, did not come to fruition. The CFPB said the company charged approximately $500,000 in fees to hundreds of consumers before “apprehended”. Along with the complaint, the CFPB submitted a consent order requesting that the court halt the company’s activities, impose civil money penalties of $15,000, provide restitution to consumers (this could be millions of dollars); disgorge the company of any ill-gotten funds, which includes $500,000 in damages; and require the company to pay attorneys’ fees and costs. This company was not a real estate brokerage, but it could have been and the jurisdictional right (because of the financial service rendered and consumer-types it affected) and relief would have been the same (see the MARS Rule in prior articles, www.eckleylaw.com ).

The “core UDAAP sin” of ADSS? The CFPB felt the company advertised and marketed a debt-relief program to consumers whose financial conditions made it “..unlikely that they could actually complete the program...” In order to enroll a consumer, ADSS requested the consumer’s financial information. Having this information, the CFPB said that the company knew or should have known that certain consumers would be unable to complete the program because they would not be able to afford the monthly payments. Before too much damnation is levied by us sideliners, does ADSS’s “sins” not sound a lot like the real estate mortgage workout programs offered over the past 6 years by just about every real estate brokerage in the country? And, more, would it not be true in just about every single case that the consumer is in terrible financial shape and may not even be able to complete even an official program? Think of HAMP2, 2MP, Hope for Homeowners, etc.. All were programs for “proven down-and-outs,” all had tenuous workout formulas—some of which were obviously financially “D.O.A.”—and all of the programs admit that between 60% and 70% of the borrowers don’t complete them or fail them and end up with deed-backs, short sales or foreclosures! Are these UDAAP violations, then, per se? Does that make everyone involved—mortgage and real estate broker, negotiator, bank, short-sale escrows and the rest all liable for a UDAAP violation? Well, let’s hope against any interpretation of UDAAP that outrageous, but the automatic brake against that kind of runaway enforcement is nowhere to be found in UDAAP itself.

Probably the real (but not highlighted) crux here may have been that ADSS collected enrollment fees from consumers during that time period, but failed to negotiate with creditors as promised. The effect was that many of the consumers dropped out of the program after paying fees but by doing so then did not receiving any benefits. OK. I get that one. But before one gets too comfortable, do remember that the CFPB sad BOTH acts were separate violations, Sin One was even taking the money from the consumer. Sin Two was allowing the consumer to forfeit the money as he exited the program. Real estate brokers: With UDAAP lurking around your website, paperwork, programs and deals with these notions, keep those MARS disclosures on your websites and stay on the good side of MARS, MIR and your short sale or work-out customers in your deals! If you cannot remember those rules, see them at www.eckleylaw.com in the free “Archives.”

LICENSURE BREACHES AS UDAAP VIOLATIONS. “THE CFPB IS HERE TO AUDIT (HUH?)…. MY REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE DEAL FILES?”

Literally every state licenses or otherwise regulates real estate brokering, title and escrow companies, mortgage brokering, banking and related services such as appraisal, home insurance, home inspection, investment advice and law practice. All of these are tied in some way to rendering services or products to a consumer in a consumer financial transaction. All of the regulations and licensure standards and rules prohibit engaging in bad faith, fraud, dishonest or abusive conduct respecting the consumer and they did so long before UDAAP. But there is now considerable argument that all such state violations of these licensing and regulatory rules—actionable standards of legal care and consumer rights in their own stead as a matter both of regulatory and usually civil claims--would also be a UDAAP violation. Likewise, a UDAAP violation would most certainly be a violation per se of these state standards and regulations and a UDAAP violation makes the case for quite a more serious regulatory violation in and of itself because of its CFPB status.

Add to this that under the DFA/CFPB, Title X is superior to state law and to state regulators in this area and one can see that local jurisdiction of what was once purely local regulatory matters and what local regulation wants to ignore or enforce is now usurped by the Feds. Applying this observation in the world of real estate sales, with the Title X cross-over giving the CFPB an ability to cite right along with the local Commissioner and even IN SPITE of the local Commissioner, one could soon be surprised at one’s brokerage to see the CFPB demanding an audit of the real estate files and deals and not the local Commissioner of Real Estate or equivalent. This makes the CFPB the new “Super Real Estate Commissioner” and this should generate some trepidation for broker-owners. More so for those under big national franchises which are the most likely candidates for federal-level interstate inspection? The same could be said for purely local mortgage brokerages, appraisal and banking organizations. Watch, particularly, for cross-business affiliation agreements and arrangements of any kind from office-sharing and referral to advertising and in any form of affiliation, direct or indirect. The CFPB has clearly announced that all of these are under attack and that passing Section 8 of RESPA is no haven from a much more fearsome UDAAP citation (see the Freeman case, above)!

THE UDAAP ANTEDOTE

The CFPB guides indicate that the enforcing or reviewing agency is to apply a preliminary UDAAP audit to virtually every CFPB-type investigation, review or enforcement conducted as a matter of course, including those where no UDAAP violation is even alleged or preliminarily suspected. It is to be a deemed a “general suspicion” in all interactions. This means any commercial entity or person contacted by the CFPB has to assume the application of a UDAAP audit at some point and be prepared for it before the CFPB even shows up at the door. Those potential candidates for audit include: mortgage brokers, originators, banks, title and escrow entities, real estate brokerages, securities brokers or offerors, insurance brokers, builders (especially those with captive mortgage companies), particularly those candidates in business alliances of any kind with other servicers or providers, the advisors, vendors and attorneys and the underlying owners of all of the forgoing candidates, just for a start (and it’s not limited to just these).

So the question is: Are you and your firm and underlying investors or owners, if any, ready for your first UDAAP review? If you do not have in place a UDAAP Manual and UDAAP Practices and Procedures program, you are definitely not and the absence of those texts and programs, alone, can be evidence against you. So where do you get these UDAAP antidotes? Right now, they don’t exist in the book store. You need to confidentially engage an outside UDAAP Advisor to get quietly self-audited and to put tighter the resulting custom manual and procedures and make the adjustments for your operation before the knock at the door. At this point, you can count the number of such advisors in the US on one hand. Not sure where to start? Contact eckley@eckleylaw.com to get help or a local referral. But whatever you do, do something NOW. Even procrastination and sloth is sin under UDAAP and can be used as evidence against you.


CONCLUSION: FEARS THAT THE “FAT LADY WON’T SING” SOON

After surviving unscathed though the acrid and almost radioactive attacks of some of the most powerful politicians and largest and best-funded lobbies in the U.S., it surely appears that the DFA/CFPB is here to stay and with it UDAAP, the brand new multi-regulatory Swiss Army Knife for whittling to a sliver of their former selves whomsoever does not kneel deeply when they approach the CFPB throne. The vagueness of the conduct it proscribes coupled with the severity of its sanctions for tenuous violations of it may act, however, to chill the kind of bolder risk-taking that is needed in the regulated industries to exit the Great Recession. For instance, at a time when home ownership continues to retreat, does it make sense in the short term to raise mortgage underwriting standards (like the “QRM”, see www.eckleylaw.com “Archives”) even beyond what has been the 30-year historical level…rather than to loosen them in strategic points—like in front and back debt-to-income ratios--until the market finds its own legs after the Feds stop supporting it with low interest in January? Is cutting more borrowers with good credit histories and down payments out of the pie with tighter ratios not a belated “yesterday’s cure” for the soft-money collapse that now needs not the stick but the carrot to dig out of the coming withdrawal of soft money and the decline it will deal to prices?

After all, a lot of the last crash was not exuberant borrowing or even necessarily prompted by low interest money. That was only a symptom or much larger issues. The culprit was irrational lending, where it mattered not a whit that neither the borrower nor the collateral had been comprehensively vetted as having even a fleck of gold in them, appraisals were starry-eyed, made-as-instructed hallucinations and where the resulting Frankenstein mortgages they made were bundled, tranched and buried down-market by a system dominated by greed and criminality at the highest levels. The system itself was corrupt and it corrupted the borrowing that went into it. Not vice versa. Accordingly, as the DFA and the CFPB were intended by Congress as the Mother of all Systemic Clean-Ups, posited to free the markets and make them honest, efficient and profitable, their first official acts ought not be to strangle them.

There is an extremely good argument--especially if the objective is to keep the market buying and borrowing while at the same time avoiding the ravages of the coming above Perfect Storm--that the Feds ought to keep loan appraisals conservative, but loan qualification with good credit histories behind it loose. In the same stroke the Fed ought then to order the retail Banks to exit Wall Street and go back to the loan desks where their regulatory charters require them to be, making residential loans, not long-shot stock and bond plays with depositor money. This mandate ought to be in force at least until this economy can get the net legitimate traction of about 10 million more real, fulltime, year-around jobs created and filled in order to be able to pay anyone anything.

The wild card in all of this is UDAAP. The market-chilling enforcement of UDAAP in the midst of the current, fragile financial mess looks disturbingly like the TSA showing up at Ground Zero with guns and dogs AFTER the tragic dust of the Twin Towers has been sent swirling into history. UDAAP is a great threat for yesterday’s sins but using it zealously now could extinguish the sparks left in what is already starting as mostly ashes.

The times call for a great, almost epic pause for re-assessment and for Jehovian restrains of regulatory discretion until the coming economic storms (the “New Normal?”) define themselves in January, 2014 and beyond. Only then will the best course out of the muddle show up on the political and economic radar. They cannot be detected now when titanic battles are raging over how the current Federal Budget Year will be wound down and whether there will be vital increases in inadequate federal spending limits to avoid federal defaults or by what timetable the Fed monetary supports will be either withdrawn or so anticipated by Wall Street that the Street anticipatorily retreats or collapses even before the rates even actually rise or any regulatory hand is even raised.

Unfortunately, in the current political environment, we are unlikely to get either pause or restraint for any of this. Instead, the grave risk is that this “socioeconomic Pequod” will continue its endless, blind, pummeling course into the storm surges boiling ahead by reason of momentum, alone.

Regrettably, the Fat Lady appears nowhere near the end of this Siren song.

'Nuff said!

TIME FOR A “LEGAL TUNE-UP” IN YOUR BUSINESS TO AVOID THE CFPB HAMMER ON JANUARY 1, 2014?

On January 1, 2014, the U.S. laws and regulations governing commerce and particularly in real estate and finance are changing as never before. If your line of work is real estate, mortgages, banking, appraisal, home insurance, securities sales or investment advice, work-outs, title and escrow, or any business affiliated with any of the foregoing, at least 3 new rules apply to you and violations can be both criminal and civil and end up with fines of up to $1 million a day!. Do you know what those new rules are? Are you ready for them? Does your staff and operational manual comport with them? Does your website comport? Do your operational and transactional forms? Does your affiliation agreements with other businesses? Nationally, fewer than 1% of all firms report being in or prepared for 2014 compliance or even knowing what they have to do to get into compliance.

Call National Transaction Management Services toll-free at 1-(855)-276-9091 to arrange a free assessment by experts of the areas in your practice or business needing to be in compliance. Learn what compliance programs apply to you and your firm and pricing structures.

With the penalties for violations of the new rules so grave and malpractice insurance covering almost none of them, it’s probably the most important call you will make in 2013.

CALL

ECKLEY & ASSOCIATES, P.C.

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UDAAP FIRST WAS “OBAMACARE” THEN IT WAS THE “FISCAL CLIFF” AND THE “TAX STANDOFF” THEN FOLLOWED “DODD-FRANK AND THE CFPB CONSPIRACY” https://staticapp.icpsc.com/icp/loadimage.php/mogile/370041/2ac0b5bef1709dcc61c5d23f2900a9b5/image/jpeg INTRODUCTION: FORGET THE “KATRINA” OF OBAMACARE AND THE “SANDY” OF THE FISCAL CLIFF: THE “UDAAP” COMETH, NOW! CFPB, DFA, UDAAP, Eckley & Associates, RESPA, TILA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Dodd Frank Act, HOEPA, Real Estate Settlement and Procedures, Title X, real estate broker, Realtor, mortgage broker, securities broker, securities, mortgages, title agency, escrow, title insurance, home insurance, unfair practices, fraudulent practices, deceptive practices, real estate, real estate licensee, attorney general, real estate fraud, consumer rights, consumer fraud, consumer law