WASHINGTON House and Senate lawmakers this week are introducing a dozen pro-consumer bills aimed at curbing abusive lending practices and tightening financial privacy laws.
In the House today, Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-N.Y., is expected to offer 11 bills to create what he calls a financial services consumer bill of rights.
The legislation is in response to changing conditions and new abuses in the financial services industry, the lawmakers office said in a press release.
One measure would increase the amount of information lenders must report on mortgage applications and denials. The ratio of mortgage debt to the borrowers income, as well as the ratio of the value of the real estate to the principal amount of the loan are among the types of information consumers would have to be given.
Another bill, similar to one Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to introduce next week, would change the thresholds of the Home Ownership Equity and Protection Act, which uses rates and fees to define high-cost loans and trigger additional reporting requirements.
The LaFalce measure would change the threshold to interest rates six percentage points higher than the one-year Treasury rate and would reduce the customer-paid points and fees threshold to 5%.
Currently, the law defines high-cost loans as those that have an annual percentage rate 10 points higher than Treasuries with comparable maturities or customer-paid points and fees that exceed 8% of the loan amount.
The LaFalce bill also would limit prepayment fees to 3% of the loan amount and prohibit all balloon payments on mortgages defined as high-cost under the law.
In the Senate, Alabama Republican Richard Shelby on Wednesday reintroduced legislation, which stalled last year, to require financial services companies to get explicit customer permission before sharing credit card and check transaction data within the corporate family and third parties.
The bill would amend the privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which, starting July 1, requires financial institutions to give customers the opportunity to block their information from being shared with outside companies. The law contains no restriction on sharing information with affiliates.
Rep. LaFalce plans soon to introduce a similar bill, which also would restrict the sharing and use of customer health information by financial institutions.