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Mortgage Broker and FTC Settle Over Yelp Reviews

On January 7th, the FTC, acting in a complaint filed by the Department of Justice, alleged that a California mortgage broker violated federal law by posting its borrowers’ personal financial information on Yelp.

The posts included info on credit histories, debt-to-income ratios, taxes, health, sources of income, and family relationships. The FTC noted that the broker has a legal obligation to keep all such information confidential pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the FTC Act (prohibiting, among other things, unfair and deceptive acts and practices).

While this particular complaint describes what appears to be a blatant violation, it may be a good opportunity to remind our lender clients of their obligations under the FFIEC’s 2013 guidance to financial institutions on oversight and control of social media, including Yelp. Other federal regulators, such as the OCC, FDIC, NCUA and CFPB, also use this guidance in their supervision of the institutions they supervise. That guidance is available here.

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In this blog post concerning legal and regulatory matters of interest to the mortgage industry, Sandler Law Group (SLG) provides general information and industry observations that are not motivated by or concerned with a particular past occurrence or event, or a specific existing legal problem of which SLG is aware. Nothing published herein is intended to constitute legal advice and the use of the blog post by a reader shall not give rise to an attorney-client relationship with SLG. SLG expressly disclaims any representation of accuracy or reliability as to the content of this blog post, as well as any obligation to maintain such content over time or to ensure it is free from errors. Brad Cope is the attorney responsible for the SLG content of this blog post. Unless otherwise noted, the attorneys of SLG are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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