March 19, 2014

Sommerfield talks fair lending rules, enforcement

March 20, 2014 – Lori Sommerfield, a counselor with BuckleySandler, LLP, discussed recent enforcement actions from regulators during NAFCU's webcast yesterday on fair lending laws and regulations.

She began with a history of fair lending, which, she pointed out, was not defined by statute until the Dodd-Frank Act. She reviewed the two primary fair lending laws – the Equal Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act, which are enforced by CFPB and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, respectively.

Sommerfield emphasized that fair lending rules are not a settled matter: "It's fluid, it's constantly evolving," she said.

After discussing different types of discrimination and the risks of non-compliance, Sommerfield answered questions posed by moderator and NAFCU Regulatory Compliance Counsel Ricardo Piñeres, who focused on the issues NAFCU members most frequently contact the association about.

On the topic of offering one-time lower prices for products, or matching other offers, Sommerfield said it was allowed, but she encouraged caution. "You'll want to manage and monitor your pricing exceptions," she said. "They should be exceptions rather than the norm.

Sommerfield has more than 20 years of experience in consumer financial protection law and compliance risk management and focuses her practice in the areas of fair and responsible lending. She regularly assists financial institutions in preparing for compliance examinations from CFPB, NCUA and other regulators.

The webcast will be available on demand for a year following the broadcast.