6 minute read | June.24.2016
With only 100 days until the new Military Lending Act (MLA) rule takes effect on October 3, 2016, many financial institutions have begun enacting procedures to ensure they are compliant with the new regulation by the effective date. With the implementation of this new rule, financial institutions continue to work towards full compliance with the requirements imposed by the Department of Defense (DoD), but there are growing pains. As this deadline draws near, there are several important compliance concerns that financial institutions must keep in mind and a number of issues where the industry is concerned about unclear language.
What types of credit are covered by the new MLA rule?
The 2007 MLA rule was limited to three specific types of products: payday loans, vehicle title loans, and refund anticipation loans. However, under the new rule, the MLA will cover a far broader range of products. The DoD sought to match the definition of credit under the Truth in Lending Act’s (TILA) implementing regulation—Regulation Z—so the new MLA rule will cover any credit that is (i) primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, and (ii) either subject to a finance charge under Regulation Z or payable by written agreement in more than four installments.
However, the new MLA rule excludes four specific types of transactions:
How do I determine if a customer is a covered borrower under the MLA? What is the MLA safe harbor?
As long as a creditor retains the results of the safe harbor search, these results are “legally conclusive,” even if the customer was in fact on military service at the time of origination or account opening.
What is the Military APR (MAPR)?
The new MLA rule, like its 2007 predecessor, applies a MAPR cap of 36 percent to any debt that is covered by the MLA. The MAPR includes both the finance charges that are included under the Regulation Z APR calculation, as well as credit insurance premiums, debt suspension fees, ancillary product fees, and certain application and participation fees, among other costs and fees.
The MAPR need not be disclosed. However, in many instances, creditors need to refine their existing systems—or create a new system—to calculate the MAPR on a billing period-by-billing period basis to ensure that the MAPR never exceeds 36 percent in any billing cycle for as long as the customer remains a covered borrower.
What other protections are provided by the new MLA rule?
In addition to the 36 percent MAPR limit, the MLA rule also places several other limits on the terms of an extension of credit to a covered borrower. Under the MLA, a creditor may not:
What disclosures must be provided under the new MLA rule?
The MLA rule requires three different written disclosures to the consumer before or at the time the borrower becomes obligated on the account: (1) a statement regarding the MAPR (which is not a disclosure of the numeric MAPR and may be satisfied using a model statement provided in the rule itself); (2) any disclosures required by Regulation Z; and (3) a clear description of the payment obligation of the borrower (which may be a payment schedule for closed-end credit or an account opening disclosure for open-end credit).
In addition, the MAPR statement and the description of the payment obligation must also be offered to the consumer orally before or at the time the borrower becomes obligated on the account. A creditor can satisfy this requirement by either providing the information to the customer in person, or by providing a toll-free telephone number that the consumer may call to obtain this information.
Are credit cards covered under the new MLA rule?
Yes, credit cards are covered under the new MLA rule. However, credit card issuers have an additional year to comply with the MLA rule’s requirements and need not have their compliance plans in place until October 3, 2017.
As we approach the October 3, 2016 implementation date, what are some areas of uncertainty under the MLA rule?
As it is currently written, there are several loan products and scenarios covered by the new rule where it is unclear how regulators and the courts will apply the MLA’s protections. Among the areas where there is some uncertainty under the MLA are the following: