CONSUMER LEASING: The Fed revised its Regulation M staff commentary to clarify how banks should disclose lease renegotiations, fees, and taxes. Published April 6. Effective March 31, 1999, but compliance is optional for one year.
TRUTH-IN-LENDING: The Fed clarified in a staff commentary that banks may not mail unsolicited credit cards to consumers, even if the product also serves as a stored value card. Published April 6. Effective March 31, 1999, but compliance is optional for one year.
COLLATERAL: The Finance Board adopted a rule expanding the types of collateral that member banks may use to secure advances from Home Loan banks. Under the new rule, members may pledge shares of mutual funds that invest in eligible collateral. Published April 6. Effective April 15.
CRA: The four bank and thrift regulators withdrew a 1989 joint statement of policy on the Community Reinvestment Act. The statement was rendered obsolete when CRA rules were revised in 1995. Published and effective April 5.
SUBPRIME LENDING: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on April 5 issued guidelines for national banks that make subprime loans. Banks should not enter the subprime market unless they have management expertise, develop detailed business plans, and make routine calls to borrowers before payments come due. Effective immediately.
DEPOSIT INSURANCE: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. approved a rule simplifying deposit insurance calculations for joint accounts and some trust accounts. Under the new rule, owners of a joint account will be insured for up to $100,000 each, not $100,000 total. The rule also lets parents and siblings be insured beneficiaries of a payable-on-death account. Published and effective April 1.
MONEY LAUNDERING: The four bank and thrift regulators withdrew a highly controversial proposal that would have made banks determine their customers' identity and source of funds, and then monitor those customers' accounts for unusual activity. It is not yet clear whether the agencies will replace the "know-your-customer" proposal with less-binding options, such as guidelines or a policy statement, or nothing at all. Published March 29 by the FDIC and the OTS.
FAIR CREDIT: The OCC on March 29 issued guidelines for banks on how to effectively comply with the opt-out portion of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which lets consumers prohibit their bank from sharing information with affiliates. Some banks print the opt-out option in bold type and include descriptions of what information is being shared and with whom. Effective immediately.
PRIVACY: The White House postponed the March 25 unveiling of a consumer financial privacy initiative. The initiative reportedly will include a variety of new and recycled proposals aimed at giving consumers information about how their financial data is being handled and at protecting them from fraud and abusive practices. The event has not yet been rescheduled.
MERGERS: The Fed, responding to year-2000 concerns, has amended Regulation CC to give banks that undergo mergers from July 1, 1998, through March 1, 2000, permission to operate separate computer systems until March 1, 2001. Published March 23. Effective immediately.
CREDIT UNIONS: The National Credit Union Administration on March 18 announced the establishment of a Small Credit Union Program. The program will offer extra technical and regulatory assistance to many credit unions with less than $10 million of assets, as well as encourage the chartering of new ones.
LOAN CHARGEOFFS: The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council dropped a controversial plan to require banks to write off all bad loans within 150 days. Instead, regulators will retain the 120-day writeoff period for closed-end loans and the 180-day period for open-end loans. Regulators also revised several minor chargeoff policies. Published Feb. 10. Effective for the June 30 call report.
SECURITIZATION: The SBA approved a final rule allowing banks to securitize the nonguaranteed portion of 7(a) loans if they retain a portion of the credit. Published Feb. 10. Effective April 12.