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Fed: Gov't should take 'big view' as payment system changes discussed

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WASHINGTON (2/7/14)--The government should take a "big view" of the payments system and ensure that consumer data is protected at each step of the process as new data security standards are considered, Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo said during a Thursday Senate Banking Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of Financial Stability and Data Security."

The Credit Union National Association made similar suggestions in letters sent for the record of three data security hearings this week.

Regulators and legislators need to think in terms of consumers who use a credit card, Tarullo stressed in his testimony. The weakest link in the security chain is where criminals will direct their attention, and more broad, general data security standards are needed, he emphasized. Tarullo said uniform disclosure standards are also needed.

Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, also a witness, agreed that it may be necessary to impose legal and other requirements to ensure that consumers are notified after a data breach has occurred at a retailer.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Martin Gruenberg said the data security practices of those in the non-banking sector need the most attention from regulators. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) suggested a common data security standard across industries is needed.

U.S. Treasury Secretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller, Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Acting Chairman Mark Wetien also testified during the hearing.

CUNA this week encouraged members of Congress to take a broad look at how consumer data is secured and the improvements that are necessary to prevent future breaches from taking place.

"Focusing on one payment method as the absolute answer to solving data security breaches is both shortsighted and distracts from the greater need of a federal data security framework for all entities," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney wrote.

For more on the letters, use the resource link.

Baucus confirmed as ambassador to China

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WASHINGTON (2/7/14)--Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was confirmed to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to China by a 96-0 Thursday Senate vote.

Baucus, who has been a Senate member since 1978, was scheduled to retire after the 2014 mid-term elections.

It is widely expected that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will replace Baucus as chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee.

Baucus's departure from the committee will change little for credit unions, which must still make sure that lawmakers on all levels truly understand that a new tax on credit unions would be a tax on their 97 million members, Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said.

"The circumstances that have made tax reform necessary continue to exist, and we expect Congress to continue to try to make progress on tax reform," Donovan added.

CUNA continues to encourage credit unions and their members to use CUNA and state credit union league resources, social media sites including Facebook, and micro-video site Vine, to tell their legislators, "Don't Tax My Credit Union."

For more on the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" efforts, use the resource link.

Rep. McCarthy, Sen. Corker, and CFPB's Antonakes join 2014 GAC lineup

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WASHINGTON (2/7/14)--Three more high-profile Washington luminaries have been added to the growing Credit Union National Association 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference lineup: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Deputy Director Steve Antonakes.

McCarthy is serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives, and remains a member of the House Financial Services Committee.

At last year's GAC, the legislator praised credit unions for helping him start his business, and promised to work hard to provide regulatory relief for the industry. McCarthy, who once owned a delicatessen in Bakersfield, Calif., told 2013 GAC attendees he would fight the growth of regulations that prevent credit unions from doing what they need to do, such as making more business loans.

Corker is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and has served in the Senate since 2007.

The senator has recently been an active member of housing finance reform efforts, introducing the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act (S. 1217). That bill would wind down government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replace them with a new mortgage guarantor.

Steve Antonakes has served as CFPB deputy director since September 2013. He is also associate director for supervision, enforcement, and fair lending at the CFPB. As deputy director, Antonakes has led the CFPB's supervision, enforcement, and fair lending teams.

Antonakes first joined the CFPB in November 2010, taking on the role of assistant director of large bank supervision. The Credit Union National Association has met with Antonakes on credit union topics, and the CFPB official has said that credit unions did not cause the financial crisis. He has also noted that credit unions served as a source of strength for their members during the economic recovery.

The 2014 GAC, set for Feb. 23 through 27 in Washington, D.C., is the credit union movement's premiere political event. The GAC gathers more than 4,000 credit union decision-makers in the nation's capital to hear from influential leaders and guide the credit union movement in building and maintaining America's trust.

To register for the 2014 GAC, use the resource link.

HUD updates its foreclosure brochure

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WASHINGTON (2/7/14)--There is a new Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foreclosure brochure and all Federal Housing Administration-approved mortgagees must use it starting Feb. 10.
HUD requires FHA-approved mortgage lenders to send a cover letter with the brochure to delinquent borrowers with an FHA-approved mortgages no earlier than the 32nd day of delinquency, but no later than the 60th day.
The new brochure is entitled "Save Your House: Tips to Avoid Foreclosure" and it replaces
 the previously published "How to Avoid Foreclosure."
HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2014-1 to announce the updated brochure and review its proper use.  For instance, the letter notes that the cover letter sent with the brochure must include:
  • Highly visible information about the availability of language access services offered by the servicer for mortgagors with limited English proficiency (this information must be provided, at a minimum, in Spanish and must include an advisement to seek translation or other language assistance);
  • The following information related to the mortgage loan: the number of late payments;  the total amount of any late charges incurred; the month of each late payment (e.g., June, July); and, the original due date of each late payment;
  • The servicer's mailing address and specific contact information of any assigned personnel;
  • A request for the mortgagor's current financial information;
  • Toll-free telephone numbers for mortgagors needing to contact the servicer's loss mitigation/ customer assistance personnel; and,
  • The toll-free telephone number for mortgagors seeking information on HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, (800) 569-4287, along with the toll-free Federal Information Relay Service number of (800) 877-8339 for mortgagors who may need a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) to call the housing counseling line.
Use the resource link to access the complete HUD letter.