Washington, D.C. – Stephen W. Hall, Legal Director and Securities Specialist for Better Markets, issued the following statement on today’s House vote to nullify the so-called “true lender” rule issued last October by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”):
Today’s vote by the House of Representatives to kill the OCC’s pro-predator lending rule is a huge victory for financial consumers.
The OCC is supposed to regulate banks for the protection of the American public, not allow banks to rent their charters to the highest bidding predator seeking to avoid state consumer protection laws so they can rip off consumers with impunity. Fortunately, the House understood the threat to consumers under this Trump-era rule, just as the Senate did when it too voted to disapprove the rule under the Congressional Review Act last May. Tens of millions of American consumers will benefit from this action and no doubt save many millions of dollars in excess fees and interest rates.
If the OCC had been honest about its regulation, it would have titled it the “Rent-A-Bank-Rule” because it allowed payday lenders, fintech finance companies, and others to hide behind a national bank’s name on their loan documents and get instant immunity from key consumer protections under state law. Those state laws are often the only things that stand between a borrower and the hidden fees and sky-high interest rates that payday lenders and other financial predators use to gouge their customers.
As we explained in our comment letter opposing the rule, national banks and federal savings associations have long enjoyed immunity from state law under the doctrine of preemption. More and more payday lenders and other non-bank finance companies want to piggyback on that preemption by affiliating with those federally chartered lenders. The OCC’s rule made that easy, potentially unleashing predators on financial consumers nationwide. That had to be stopped and we applaud the Congress for doing just that.
Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.