CFPB Uncovers Illegal Junk Fees on Bank Accounts, Mortgages, and Student and Auto Loans
March 8, 2023
Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a special edition of its Supervisory Highlights that reports on unlawful junk fees uncovered in deposit accounts and in multiple loan servicing markets, including in mortgage, student, and payday lending. These unlawful fees corrode family finances, force up families’ banking and borrowing costs, and are not easily avoided – even by financially savvy consumers. As described in the Supervisory Highlights, the CFPB continues rooting unlawful fees out of consumer financial markets.
“For years, junk fees have been creeping across the economy,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Our report describes a host of illegal junk fee practices that the CFPB has uncovered across the financial services sector.”
The CFPB’s examination and supervision program helps the agency identify illegal practices that are harming families, market competition, and law-abiding businesses. The CFPB publishes Supervisory Highlights reports to promote transparency and to stop potentially unlawful practices, as well as to help educate families, advocacy groups, and other law enforcement agencies about these practices.
The CFPB’s prior supervision work led the agency to issue guidance in October 2022, on the longstanding problem of surprise overdraft fees. As of today, after the CFPB’s focus on surprise overdrafts, at least 20 of the largest banks in the United States, which hold 62% of the volume of consumer deposit accounts subject to the CFPB’s supervisory authority, do not charge surprise overdraft fees. Additionally, banks that the CFPB has examined thus far will refund roughly $30 million to about 170,000 account holders who were assessed surprise overdraft fees.
This Supervisory Highlights special edition covers unlawful junk fees in the areas of bank account deposits, auto loan servicing, mortgage loan servicing, payday lending, and student loan servicing found during examinations between July 1, 2022, and February 1, 2023.
Mortgage Loan Servicing
In a previous edition of Supervisory Highlights, the CFPB identified illegal fees being charged in the mortgage servicing market, and, in November 2022, the CFPB took action against a mortgage servicer for cheating homeowners out of CARES Act rights.
CFPB examiners have identified old and new ways that mortgage servicers attempt to run-up unlawful fees that are charged to homeowners. Specifically, CFPB examiners found mortgage servicers charged:
Excessive late fee amounts: Mortgage servicers charged the top late fee amount allowed by relevant state laws, even when homeowners’ mortgage contracts capped late fee amounts below state maximums.
Fees for unnecessary property inspections: Mortgage servicers charged consumers $10 to $50 fees for every property inspection visit to addresses that were known to be incorrect. Servicers continued to pay inspectors to go to the known incorrect addresses and continued to charge consumers for those visits.
Fake Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) premium charges: Servicers included monthly PMI premiums that homeowners did not owe in their monthly statements.
Failure to waive fees for homeowners entering some loss mitigation options: CARES Act mortgage forbearance covered not only a mortgage’s principal and interest but also stopped servicers from charging late fees during the period of forbearance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) put further protections in place for homeowners that exited forbearance and went into permanent COVID-19 loss mitigation options, including waiving certain fees or other charges that accrued outside of forbearance periods. However, CFPB examiners found that some servicers failed to adhere to HUD’s additional protections, and charged homeowners late charges, fees, and penalties that should have been waived.
For full report, please click the source link above.