TBJ January 2022

2021: The Year in Review

Consumer Law

Written by Jon-Ross Trevino and Newton Tamayo

In TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez,1 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on whether a class action had Article III standing in a case against TransUnion over the violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The court reaffirmed the holding in Spokeo v. Robins2, stating “[o]nly those plaintiffs who have been concretely harmed by a defendant’s statutory violation may sue that private defendant over that violation in federal court.”3 The court also limited the definition of concrete harm by stating the “mere risk of future harm” is not enough to give a plaintiff Article III standing.4

In Cranor v. 5 Star Nutrition, L.L.C., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held a single unsolicited text message advertisement is a “cognizable injury in fact” for purposes of Article III standing in a claim invoking the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA.5 The court declined to follow the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit’s approach to the matter, creating a circuit split, which had held the TCPA only restricted communications to a plaintiff’s home.6

On June 30, 2021, President Joe Biden signed Senate Joint Resolution 15,7 through the Congressional Review Act, which repealed the “true lender rule”8 that was published on October 30, 2020, and became effective December 29, 2020. Under the true lender rule, “a bank makes a loan if, as of the date of origination, it is named as the lender in the loan agreement or funds the loan.”9 Consumer advocates stated the rule allowed for “rent-a-charter schemes” by allowing predatory lenders to partner with banks and bypass state usury laws.10

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published the second part of the finalized revised “Regulation F,”11 which implemented the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, or FDCPA, on January 19, 2021.12 Among the new protections for consumers, debt collectors are now prohibited from “bringing or threatening to bring a legal action against a consumer to collect a time-barred debt, and requires debt collectors” to provide a consumer with notice of an alleged debt before reporting it to a credit reporting agency.13 The first part of the revised regulation was published on November 30, 2020.14 That section, inter alia, creates a rebuttable presumption a debt collector violated the FDCPA if they call the consumer seven times, in a seven-day period, or call the consumer within seven days after “engaging in a telephone conversation with the person.”15 Additionally, the consumer now has a right to restrict the medium a debt collector can attempt to communicate with the consumer, and while the debt collector can send electronic communications, the debt collector must provide the consumer a way to opt out of future electronic communications.16 The new regulations both became effective on November 30, 2021.17

Notes
1. TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, 141 S. Ct. 2190 (2021).
2. Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016).
3. Id. at 2205.
4. Id. at 2211.
5. Cranor v. 5 Star Nutrition, L.L.C., 998 F.3d 686, 690 (5th Cir. 2021).
6. Id.
7. National Banks and Federal Savings Associations as Lenders, Pub. L. No. 117-24, 135 Stat 296 (2021).
8. National Banks and Federal Savings Associations as Lenders, 85 Fed. Reg. 68742.
9. Id.
10. Id.
11. 12 C.F.R § 1006 (2021).
12. Debt Collection Practices (Regulation F), 86 Fed. Reg. 5766 (Jan. 19, 2021) (to be codified at 12 C.F.R. 1006).
13. Id.
14. Debt Collection Practices (Regulation F), 85 Fed. Reg. 76734 (Nov. 30, 2020) (to be codified at 12 C.F.R. 1006).
15. Id.
16. Id.
17. Id. at 85 Fed. Reg. 76734; 86 Fed. Reg. 5766.

JON-ROSS TREVINO is the managing attorney of the Housing and Consumer Unit at Lone Star Legal Aid. He passionately strives to provide equal access to justice through a client-centric approach. Trevino has carried out extensive litigation as a consumer advocate in state and federal court in Houston and the surrounding area.

NEWTON TAMAYO is a staff attorney at Lone Star Legal Aid. He has been at the service provider since 2018, focusing on consumer law issues around the greater Houston area.

 

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