Another governmentally-imposed tsunami has washed ashore! Legislation rolls in as quickly as ocean waves, drowning its victims under a storm-tossed sea of churning regulations. Sharks are circling….…. waiting……. watching……. for just the right time to strike! There is absolutely no lifeboat in sight!
The workdays grow longer….. staffing grows shorter…. expenses mount.
CUNA July 28th Audio Conference:
- Fed…"issued an interim final rule amending Regulation Z, the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), … require creditors to adopt reasonable policies and procedures to ensure that periodic statements for any open-end consumer credit account are mailed or delivered at least 21 days before the payment is due…creditors to provide a 45-day notice of a change in the interest rate or other significant changes to the terms of the credit card agreement…."
- "… is the first stage in the implementation of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosures Act of 2009 (CARD Act), which amended TILA to establish fair practices for credit cards and other open-end credit plans…."
These uncharted waters reveal good news. A guided lifeboat still exists, charting a new course.
- Write your representatives! The CARD Act is still being revised. We are still in the 60-day feedback period. Make sure to write your representatives. Your letters can make the difference. A single voice is amplified when many voices join in unison. Present the grassroots issues so the law can be fine-tuned. Make your voices heard!
- Proof of compliance! can be accomplished through technology. Ask your mail provider to offer USPS "Confirm" services. Documentation is critical when challenged by a member. Don't underestimate the power of one member. One member can litigate on behalf of all members.
- Documentation: best defense! Legal challenges do not always appear right away. Focus on permanent record retention. If you depend on the member saving the postmarked envelope, you will be disappointed. Ask your mail and/or e-statement provider for date-stamping right on the physical statements. Computerized date-stamping must be done by the mail and/or e-statement provider. Find a provider who offers this service.
- Watchdog software is becoming available! Technology solutions can electronically patrol your "consolidated" statement data monthly and harpoon situations that will potentially knock you off the lifeboat. Ask your mail and/or e-statement provider if these services are going to be offered.
- Murphy's law rules! Beware! It is not a matter of if it will happen but when. No matter how well laid out your procedures are for producing and mailing statements, there is a long list of small "Acts of God" that can quickly throw statements out of compliance. Find out where these sharks are and how to avoid them.
- Lack of communication is the lethal shark! Keep communication open with your mail and/or e-statement provider on evenings, weekends and holidays. It's only a few days of the month! Don't forget to tell your provider which statements are affected by the CARD Act. Update your service agreement addendums, listing new expectations.
- Have a backup plan! It is your lifeline. As the old saying goes, "if you fail to plan, plan to fail"! Ask your provider what kinds of things to watch for and if the worst happens, what can be done to compensate for it. This will make the difference in whether you are legally challenged or not.
Even with the challenges this new legislation is creating, great opportunities still exist for growth and prosperity if communication, documentation, and flexible, high-tech, cost effective solutions are in place.
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