The Vermont Statutes Online
- Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 10101. Application of consumer protection chapter
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the provisions of this chapter shall apply to all financial institutions, as defined in subdivision 11101(32) of this title, licensed lenders, mortgage brokers, mortgage loan originators, sales finance companies, independent trust companies, money service providers, debt adjusters, loan servicers, credit unions, and any other person doing or soliciting business in this State as described in Part 2, 4, or 5 of this title, in addition to any other applicable consumer protection or remedy section not contained in this chapter, unless such consumer protection or remedy section is expressly made exclusive. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2011, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 24, eff. April 2, 2012; 2015, No. 128 (Adj. Sess.), § F.1, eff. May 24, 2016.)
§ 10102. Penalties
The provisions of subchapter 6 of chapter 201 of this title shall apply to any violation of this chapter, unless the section or subchapter that is the subject of the violation contains its own penalty. The procedures in subchapter 6 of chapter 201 of this title shall apply to any penalty imposed for a violation of this chapter. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
- Subchapter 002: FINANCIAL PRIVACY
§ 10201. Statement of policy on financial privacy
It is the policy of this state to protect the privacy of customers of financial institutions without unduly inhibiting the free flow of commerce or legitimate law enforcement activities. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
§ 10202. Definitions
As used in this subchapter:
(1) “Account verification service” means any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of:
(A) assembling information on the frequency and location of depository account openings or attempted openings by a consumer, or forced closings by a depository institution of accounts of a consumer; or
(B) authenticating or validating Social Security numbers or addresses for the purpose of reporting to third parties for use in fraud prevention. Mailing such information to a customer to the address provided by such customer shall not be prohibited by this subchapter.
(2) “Credit reporting agency” means any person who, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of reporting to third parties on the credit rating or creditworthiness of any consumer.
(3) “Customer” means, for purposes of this subchapter, any person who deposits, borrows, or invests with a financial institution, including a surety or a guarantor on a loan.
(4) “Financial information” means an original or copy of, or information derived from:
(A) a document that grants signature authority over a deposit or share account;
(B) a statement, ledger card, or other record of a deposit or share account that shows transactions in or with respect to that deposit or account;
(C) a check, clear draft, or money order that is drawn on a financial institution or issued and payable by or through a financial institution;
(D) any item, other than an institutional or periodic charge, that is made under an agreement between a financial institution and another person’s deposit or share account;
(E) any information that relates to a loan account or an application for a loan; or
(F) evidence of a transaction conducted by electronic or telephonic means.
(5) “Financial institution” means a financial institution as defined in subdivision 11101(32) of this title, and a credit union, financial institution subsidiary, licensed lender, mortgage broker, or sales finance company organized or regulated under the laws of this State, the United States or any other state or territory.
(6) “Mercantile agency” means any person, which for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating business credit information or other information on businesses for the purpose of reporting to third parties on the credit rating or creditworthiness of any business. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
§ 10203. Disclosure of financial records prohibited
Except as otherwise expressly provided in this subchapter, a financial institution, its officers, employees, agents, and directors shall not disclose to any person any financial information relating to a customer. Financial institutions shall adopt reasonable procedures to ensure compliance with this subchapter. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 278, eff. July 1, 2022.)
§ 10204. Exceptions
This subchapter does not prohibit any of the activities listed in this section. This section shall not be construed to require any financial institution to make any disclosure not otherwise required by law. This section shall not be construed to require or encourage any financial institution to alter any procedures or practices not inconsistent with this subchapter. This section shall not be construed to expand or create any authority in any person or entity other than a financial institution.
(1) Disclosure of information to the customer after proper identification.
(2) Disclosure authorized by the customer, provided the disclosure is limited to the scope and purpose that the customer authorizes.
(3) Disclosure of information sought by the Office of Child Support Services pursuant to its authority and obligations under 33 V.S.A. § 115 and 33 V.S.A. chapter 41, or by an agency of similar function of another state, pursuant to similar authority.
(4) Disclosure of information sought by the Department for Children and Families pursuant to its authority and obligations under 33 V.S.A. § 112.
(5) Disclosure sought by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation pursuant to its authority and obligations under 16 V.S.A. chapter 87.
(6) The preparation, examination, handling, or maintenance of financial records by any officer, employee, or agent of a financial institution that has custody of the records.
(7) The examination of financial records by a certified public accountant while engaged by the financial institution to perform an independent audit.
(8) The disclosure of information to a collection agency, its employees or agents, or to any person engaged by the financial institution to assist in recovering an amount owed to the financial institution, if such disclosure is made in the furtherance of recovering such amount.
(9) The examination of financial records by, or the disclosure of financial records to, any officer, employee, or agent of a regulatory agency for use only in the exercise of that person’s duties as an officer, employee, or agent.
(10) The publication of information derived from financial records if the information cannot be identified to any particular customer, deposit, or account.
(11) The making of reports, disclosures, or returns required by federal or state law.
(12) The disclosure of any information permitted to be disclosed under the laws governing dishonor of negotiable instruments.
(13) The exchange, in the regular course of business, of credit information between a financial institution and a credit reporting agency, provided such exchange is in compliance with the Vermont Fair Credit Reporting Act, 9 V.S.A. chapter 63, subchapter 3, and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
(14) The exchange, in the regular course of business, of information between a financial institution and an account verification service, provided such exchange is in compliance with the Vermont Fair Credit Reporting Act, 9 V.S.A. chapter 63, subchapter 3, and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
(15) The exchange, in the regular course of business, of information between a financial institution and a mercantile agency, provided such exchange is solely for the purpose of reporting to third parties on the credit rating or creditworthiness of any business, and is in compliance with the Vermont Fair Credit Reporting Act, 9 V.S.A. chapter 63, subchapter 3, and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
(16) The exchange of loan information that specifically affects a sale, foreclosure, or loan closing, provided such exchange is for the purpose of accomplishing such sale, foreclosure, or loan closing.
(17) The disclosure to civil or criminal law enforcement authorities for use in the exercise of such authority’s duties, or the sharing of information, within an industry network, of suspected criminal activities.
(18) Disclosures requested pursuant to a summons for trustee process under Rule 4.2 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.
(19) Disclosure requested pursuant to subpoena, provided that no disclosure shall be made until 14 days after the financial institution has notified the customer that financial information has been requested by subpoena. Such notice shall be served by first class mail to the customer at the most recent address known to the financial institution. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply where the subpoena is issued by or on behalf of a regulatory, criminal, or civil law enforcement agency.
(20) Disclosure required by order of court.
(21) Disclosure of customer financial information among directors, officers, employees, or agents of affiliated financial institutions, provided that such disclosure is limited to information necessary or appropriate to the fulfillment of any such persons’ duties and responsibilities to the financial institution or institutions, and provided further that such disclosure is made in compliance with the Vermont Fair Credit Reporting Act, 9 V.S.A. chapter 63, subchapter 3, and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
(22) Disclosure of customer financial information of one financial institution to another financial institution in connection with a proposed merger, consolidation, acquisition, or other reorganization transaction involving such institution, provided that no further disclosure is made except in compliance with this subchapter, and provided further that such disclosure is made in compliance with the Vermont Fair Credit Reporting Act, 9 V.S.A. chapter 63, subchapter 3, and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
(23) Disclosure in accordance with rules adopted by the Commissioner, provided that the Commissioner may permit disclosure by temporary order, until such time as rules under this subdivision are adopted.
(24) Disclosure sought by the Department of Taxes of this State pursuant to its authority and obligations under Title 32.
(25) Reports or disclosure of financial or other information to the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living, pursuant to 33 V.S.A. §§ 6903(b), 6904, and 6915.
(26) Disclosure of information sought by the Department of Vermont Health Access or its agents pursuant to the Department’s authority and obligations under 33 V.S.A. § 403. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 28, 2002; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 2015, No. 91 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 16, 2016; 2017, No. 11, § 6; 2017, No. 210 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. June 1, 2018.)
§ 10205. Penalties
In addition to the authority provided under sections 11601, 11602 and 11603 of this title, the Commissioner may impose an administrative penalty of not more than $1,000.00 for each violation of this subchapter resulting from willful conduct, or from a failure by a financial institution to provide reasonable supervision of its employees to prevent violations of this subchapter. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
§ 10206. Lead solicitations
(a) As used in this section, “consumer” means a natural person residing in this State.
(b) A person shall not use the name, trade name, or trademark of any financial institution in any written or oral advertisement or solicitation to a specifically identified consumer, or which contains specific information on the account or loan of a specifically identified consumer, for products or services, without the express written consent of the financial institution.
(c) A person shall not include a loan number, loan amount, or any other specific loan information that is publicly available and relative to a specifically identified consumer in any written or oral solicitation for products or services unless the solicitation clearly and conspicuously states on the front page of the correspondence in bold-face type and in a type size at least equal to the body of the correspondence:
(1) that the person is not affiliated with or sponsored by the financial institution;
(2) that the solicitation is not authorized by the financial institution;
(3) that the financial institution has not supplied the person with any loan information or personal or financial information referenced in the solicitation; and
(4) the name, address, and telephone number of the person who paid for the solicitation.
(d) The statements required by subsection (c) of this section shall also be given at the time of any oral solicitation to a specifically identified consumer.
(e) In addition to any other authority provided elsewhere, the Commissioner may enforce violations of this section against any person and may impose penalties as set forth in sections 2110 and 2115 of this title; may recover costs and attorneys’ fees, including court costs; may order any person to cease violating this section; and may take such other actions as the Commissioner deems necessary and appropriate. All administrative proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 and any rules adopted by the Commissioner on hearing procedures.
(f) A financial institution that has had its name, trade name, or trademark misrepresented in a solicitation in violation of this section may, in addition to any other remedy provided by law, bring an action in Superior Court in the county of its primary place of business, or if its primary place of business is located outside Vermont, in Washington Superior Court. The court shall award damages for each violation in the amount of actual damages demonstrated by the financial institution or $5,000.00, whichever is greater. In any successful action for injunctive relief or for damages, the court shall award the financial institution reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including court costs.
(g) A person’s failure to comply with the requirements of this section shall constitute an unfair and deceptive act in commerce enforceable under 9 V.S.A. chapter 63.
(h) For purposes of this section, each solicitation sent to each consumer constitutes a separate violation. (Added 2009, No. 100 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2019, No. 20, § 100.)
- Subchapter 003: DISCLOSURES AND REPORTS
§ 10301. Community reinvestment reports
Every financial institution subject to the Federal Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (12 U.S.C. § 2901) as amended shall provide to the Commissioner a copy of any report issued with respect to such financial institution under that act. If the financial institution is not a Vermont financial institution, then the requirements of this section shall only apply to reports that relate to its business in this State. The Commissioner shall make such reports available for public inspection and copying. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
§ 10302. Automated teller machines
(a) The owner of an automated teller machine or other remote service unit, including a cash dispensing machine, located or employed in this State shall prominently and conspicuously disclose on or at the location of each such machine or on the first screen of each such machine the identity, address, and telephone number of the owner and the availability of consumer assistance. The owner shall also disclose on the screen of such machine or on a paper notice issued from the machine the amount of the fees or charges that the owner will assess to the consumer for the use of that machine. The amount of the fees or charges shall be disclosed before the consumer is irrevocably committed to completing the transaction. The Commissioner shall approve the form, content, timing, and location of such disclosures and any amendments prior to use. The Commissioner shall act on any submission made under this section within 30 days after receipt. If the Commissioner determines that any disclosures do not provide adequate consumer protection, the Commissioner may by order or by rule specify minimum disclosure standards, including the form, content, timing, and location of such disclosures. The Commissioner may impose on the owner of an automated teller machine or other remote service unit an administrative penalty of not more than $1,000.00 for each day’s failure of the owner to apply to the Commissioner for approval of disclosures required under this section, for each day’s failure of the owner to use disclosures approved by the Commissioner, or for each day’s continuing violation of an order of the Commissioner relating to the disclosures required by this section.
(b) The owner of an automated teller machine or other remote service unit, including a cash dispensing machine, located or employed in this State shall notify the Commissioner of the location of each terminal at least 30 days prior to the activation of such terminal. The owner shall notify the Commissioner of the deactivation of any terminal within 30 days after the deactivation of such terminal.
(c) In addition to an automated teller machine or other remote service unit owned by a financial institution or credit union, the provisions of this section shall apply to any automated teller machine or other remote service unit not owned by a financial institution or credit union, except it shall not include a point-of-sale terminal owned or operated by a merchant who does not charge a fee for the use of the point-of-sale terminal. The activities of an automated teller machine or other remote service unit whose owner is not a financial institution shall be limited to cash dispensing or the offer or sale of nonbanking services and products. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2013, No. 29, § 16, eff. May 13, 2013; 2019, No. 20, § 101; 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 279, eff. July 1, 2022.)
- Subchapter 004: LENDING REPORTS, DISCLOSURES, AND STANDARDS
§ 10401. Repealed. 2003, No. 105 (Adj. Sess), § 16.
§ 10402. Lending reports, disclosures and standards
An entity subject to this chapter shall be subject to and comply with the provisions of 9 V.S.A. chapter 4. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
§ 10403. Prohibition on discrimination based on sex, marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability
(a) Discrimination prohibited. No financial institution shall discriminate against any applicant for credit services on the basis of the sex, marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the applicant, provided the applicant has the legal capacity to contract.
(b) Rulemaking. The Department of Financial Regulation shall adopt rules necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.
(c) Definitions. As used in this section:
(1) “Adverse action” means denial, revocation, or termination of credit services. The term does not include a change in the terms of an account expressly agreed to by an applicant, nor any action or forbearance relating to an account taken in connection with inactivity, default, or delinquency as to that account.
(2) “Applicant” means any person who applies to a financial institution directly for an extension, renewal, or continuation of credit, or applies to a financial institution indirectly by use of an existing credit plan for an amount exceeding a previously established credit limit.
(3) “Application” means an oral or written request for an extension of credit that is made in accordance with procedures established by a financial institution for the type of credit requested. The term does not include the use of an account or line of credit to obtain an amount of credit that is within a previously established credit limit. A completed application means an application in connection with which a financial institution has received all the information that the financial institution regularly obtains and considers in evaluating applications for the amount and type of credit requested, including credit reports, any additional information requested from the applicant, and any approvals or reports by governmental agencies or other persons that are necessary to guarantee, insure, or provide security for the credit or collateral. The financial institution shall exercise reasonable diligence in obtaining such information.
(4) “Credit services” means credit cards, personal loans, mortgage loans, and commercial loans.
(5) “Financial institutions” means Vermont financial institutions, credit unions, and licensed lenders.
(6) “Disability” applied to an applicant means a person with a disability as defined in 21 V.S.A. § 495d(5). As used in this section, an applicant with a disability does not include an alcoholic or drug abuser who, by reason of current alcohol or drug use, constitutes an unacceptable credit risk.
(7) “Person” means a natural person, a corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, trust, estate, partnership, cooperative, association, or other entity.
(d) Notification requirements.
(1) Within 30 days of reaching a decision on a completed application, a financial institution shall notify the applicant of its decision on the application.
(2) Each applicant against whom adverse action is taken shall receive a written statement of reasons for such action from the financial institution.
(3) For commercial credit only, a statement of reasons meets the requirements of this section only if it contains the specific reasons for the adverse action taken and cites the specific documentation or business judgment that supports the adverse decision on the application. Consumer credit shall be governed by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.) and regulations adopted pursuant to the Act.
(4) Financial institutions shall be required to maintain a copy of all “statements of reasons” and the documentation upon which the decision was based for 24 months after the date of issuance.
(e) Civil enforcement. A financial institution that discriminates against an applicant in violation of this section shall be liable to the applicant for punitive damages, for actual damages sustained by the applicant as a result of the discrimination, and for costs and reasonable attorney’s fees as determined by the court. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2007, No. 41, § 10; 2011, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 2, 2012; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 24; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 280, eff. July 1, 2022.)
§ 10404. Home loan escrow accounts
(a) As used in this section:
(1) “Borrower” means one or more natural persons who are obligated to make escrow account payments under the terms of a loan agreement secured by residential real estate occupied by the borrower.
(2) “Escrow account” means an account into which a borrower is required under the terms of a residential real estate loan agreement to make periodic payments of property taxes, insurance premiums, or other similar charges.
(3) “Lender” means a person who services or holds the beneficial interest in a loan secured by residential real estate located in this State and who requires periodic payments by a borrower into an escrow account in accordance with the provisions of a residential real estate loan agreement.
(b) A lender shall pay into an escrow account for the benefit of the borrower interest on funds deposited into the account under the same conditions as the lender’s regular savings account, if offered, and otherwise at a rate not less than the prevailing market rate of interest for regular savings accounts offered by local financial institutions, calculated on the basis of the average monthly balance in the account and credited on the first day of each quarter. This subsection shall not apply when a lender requires payment into an escrow account because a borrower has failed, within the past year, to make timely payments for property taxes and insurance in accordance with the provisions of the loan agreement.
(c) A lender shall not require a borrower to deposit into an escrow account any greater sum than is sufficient to pay taxes, insurance premiums, and other charges with respect to the residential real estate, subject to the following additional charges:
(1) a lender may require aggregate annual deposits no greater than the reasonably estimated total annual charges plus one-sixth of such total; and
(2) a lender may require monthly deposits no greater than one-twelfth of the reasonably estimated total annual charges plus an amount needed to maintain an additional account balance no greater than one-sixth of such total.
(d) A lender shall make timely payments of all charges with respect to the residential real estate payable from the escrow account.
(e) The lender shall maintain escrow account funds in a federally insured depository institution.
(f) With respect to borrowers who have maintained escrow accounts in accordance with the provisions of the loan agreement, the lender shall be primarily obligated for the payment of any municipal or county taxes, insurance premiums, or other similar charges with respect to the residential real estate, and any penalties attributable to the lender’s late payment of such charges.
(g)(1) At least annually, at the completion of the escrow account computation year, a lender shall conduct an escrow account analysis to determine the borrower’s monthly escrow account payments for the next computation year based on the borrower’s current tax liability, if made available to the lender either by the borrower or the municipality, after any applicable adjustment for a State credit on property taxes.
(2) Upon receipt of a revised property tax bill, the lender shall review the property tax bill and, upon verifying that it has been reduced since the date of the last escrow account analysis, the lender shall, within 30 days of receiving the bill, conduct a new escrow account analysis, recalculate the borrower’s monthly escrow payment, and notify the borrower of any change.
(3) At least annually, and whenever an escrow account analysis is conducted or upon request of the borrower, the lender shall provide to the borrower financial statements relating to the borrower’s escrow account in a manner and on a form consistent with the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The lender shall not charge the borrower for the preparation and transmittal of such statements.
(h) A borrower aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this section, or a rule adopted by the Commissioner in connection with this section, may bring an action for injunctive relief, three times the amount of any interest unpaid in violation of this section, other damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. The Commissioner may bring an action in the Superior Court of Washington County for injunctive relief, restitution, and any administrative costs and attorneys’ fees incurred as a result of a violation of this section. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2017, No. 70, § 2.)
§ 10404a. Repealed. 2011, No. 21, § 3.
§ 10405. Debt protection agreements
(a) Debt protection agreements that meet the requirements of this section, including requirements related to necessary disclosures, prohibited activities, and to the sale, transfer, and assignment of such agreements, are not insurance as defined by section 3301a of this title and are not governed by the insurance laws of the State of Vermont.
(b) As used in this section:
(1) “Debt protection agreement” means a loan term or contractual arrangement that may be part of, or separate from, the loan agreement or retail or motor vehicle installment contract that modifies the loan or retail or motor vehicle installment contract terms governing the extension of credit under the loan agreement, or retail or motor vehicle installment contract, and under which the creditor agrees to provide one or more of the following protections:
(A) debt cancellation, which is an agreement to cancel all or part of a borrower’s obligation to repay an extension of credit from that creditor upon the occurrence of a specified event and shall include a guaranteed asset protection waiver agreement in which the creditor agrees to cancel all or part of a borrower’s obligation to repay an extension of credit to the extent that there is an outstanding balance on the loan or retail or motor vehicle installment contract after application of property insurance proceeds in the event of total physical damage or theft of the property; or
(B) debt suspension, which is an agreement to suspend all or part of a borrower’s obligation upon the occurrence of a specified event.
(2) The term “creditor” shall include:
(A) the lender in a credit transaction;
(B) any “retail seller” or “seller” of “motor vehicles” or of other “goods” and “services” that provides credit to “retail buyers” or “buyers” of such motor vehicles or goods and services as those terms are all defined in 9 V.S.A. §§ 2351 and 2401, respectively, provided that such entities comply with the provisions of this section, including the provisions of subdivisions (c)(1) and (2) of this section; and
(C) the assignees of any of the foregoing to whom the credit obligation is payable.
(3) The term “borrower” shall include a debtor, retail buyer of a motor vehicle or other good or service, or other person who obtains an extension of credit from a creditor.
(4) The term “actuarial method” shall mean the method of allocating payments made on a debt between the amount financed and the finance charge pursuant to which a payment is applied first to the accumulated finance charge and any remainder is subtracted from or any deficiency is added to the unpaid balance of the amount financed.
(c)(1) Requirements. In the case of credit granted by a seller or retail seller of motor vehicles or of other goods and services that is not required to be licensed under chapter 73 of this title, such retail seller or seller of motor vehicles or of other goods and services shall, within 15 business days, sell, assign, or otherwise transfer the loan agreement, motor vehicle installment contract, or retail sales installment contract, together with the related debt protection agreement in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection.
(2) All assignments, sales, or transfers of a loan agreement or motor vehicle or retail installment contract to which a debt protection agreement relates and the related debt protection agreement shall be to a financial institution as defined in subdivision 11101(32) of this title, a credit union, or an entity licensed under subdivision 2201(a)(1) or (4) of this title to engage in lending or sales financing.
(3) In the event that a retail seller or seller of motor vehicles or of other goods or services cannot within 15 business days sell, assign, or otherwise transfer the loan agreement or motor vehicle or retail sales installment contract and the related debt protection agreement as required by subdivision (1) of this subsection, or in the event that an assignment is made contrary to subdivision (2) of this subsection, the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply and the product shall be considered to be insurance governed by the insurance laws of the State of Vermont.
(4) The debt protection agreement forms a part of the loan agreement or sales contract and must be assigned, sold, or transferred together with any assignment, sale, or transfer of the loan agreement or retail or motor vehicle installment contract to which it was originally related.
(5) A creditor shall disclose in writing, such disclosures shall be conspicuous, readily understandable, and designed to call attention to the nature and significance of the information provided:
(A) that neither the extension of credit, the terms of the credit, nor the terms of the related sale in the case of a motor vehicle or other good or service are to be conditioned upon the purchase of a debt protection agreement;
(B) the charge for the debt protection agreement; and
(C) the terms and conditions of coverage, including the eligibility requirements for coverage, conditions, or exclusions associated with the contract, a clear representation of the parties to the agreement, procedures for making a claim under the agreement, and the length of term of coverage.
(6) The buyer signs or initials an affirmative written request to purchase a debt protection agreement after receiving the disclosures specified in this subsection. Any buyer in the transaction may sign or initial the request.
(7) Neither the extension of credit, the terms of the credit, nor the terms of the related sale in the case of a motor vehicle or other good or service are to be conditioned upon the purchase of a debt protection agreement.
(8) The fees charged for debt protection agreements shall not vary as between individual borrowers except in relation to the amount and maturity date of the underlying loan or extension of credit.
(9) Creditors may not offer debt protection agreements where the products contain terms that allow the creditor to modify unilaterally the contract, unless the modification is favorable to the borrower and is made without additional charge to the borrower, or the borrower is notified of the proposed change and can cancel the debt protection agreement without penalty.
(10) Creditors cannot offer debt protection agreements where the terms require a lump sum, single payment, for the contract payable at the outset and the product is for a residential mortgage loan, including primary or secondary residences and including first or subordinate liens. Periodic payments made in relation to a residential home loan must be evenly distributed over the same term as the term of the residential home loan.
(11) The borrower may cancel the debt protection agreement at any time and for any reason. In the event of termination or cancellation of the contract, the creditor must refund any unearned fee according to a formula fully disclosed to the borrower at the time of entering into the debt protection agreement, unless the contract provides otherwise. A debt protection agreement that does not provide for a refund may only be offered if an offer is also made of a bona fide option to purchase a comparable contract that provides for a refund. The refund must be fair and reasonable, and the method of calculating the refund must be at least as favorable to the borrower as the “actuarial method”; provided, however, that if such method produces a result of less than $5.00, no refund shall be required. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if cancellation by the borrower occurs within 30 days of entering into the debt protection agreement, the borrower shall receive a full refund.
(12) The creditor must manage the risks associated with debt protection agreements in accordance with safe and sound financial principles. The creditor must establish and maintain effective risk management and control processes over its debt protection agreements. Such processes include appropriate recognition and financial reporting of income, expenses, assets, and liabilities, and appropriate treatment of all expected and unexpected losses associated with the products. The creditor also should assess the adequacy of its internal control and risk mitigation activities in view of the nature and scope of its debt protection agreement programs.
(13) Debt protection agreements, as defined in this section, shall not state that the borrower does not have a right to bring an action to enforce the terms of the debt protection agreement or otherwise challenge the denial of a claim, or that any civil action brought in connection with a debt protection agreement must be brought in the courts of a jurisdiction other than Vermont.
(14) Any other requirements prescribed by the Commissioner, in order to further the purposes of this section, by rules adopted pursuant to this section.
(d) The Commissioner may conduct an examination of any creditor, as defined under this section, for the purpose of determining compliance with this section and may make such investigation, as the Commissioner deems necessary. To the extent necessary for such examination or investigation, the Commissioner may, without limiting the foregoing, compel the production of all relevant books, records, documents, other evidence, or the attendance of witnesses, and may issue subpoenas with respect to the foregoing. The expense of any such investigation or examination shall be paid by the entity being examined or investigated. Nothing contained in this subsection shall limit any other examination or investigation authority of the Commissioner contained in Title 9 or this title.
(e) The Commissioner may take any action reasonable, necessary, or desirable for the enforcement of this section, or any rule adopted pursuant to this section, or the enforcement of any order issued under this subsection and may:
(1) Order the creditor to cease and desist from offering debt protection agreements.
(2) Revoke or suspend the license or authority under this title of any person, including creditors offering debt protection agreements.
(3) Impose a penalty of not more than $1,000.00 for each violation that the Commissioner finds to exist.
(4) Order the creditor to make restitution to the borrower.
(f) The powers vested in the Commissioner under this section are in addition to any other powers of the Commissioner to enforce penalties, fines, or forfeitures authorized by law with respect to a violation of any other law under Title 9 or this title. (Added 2005, No. 70, § 4; amended 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 281, eff. July 1, 2022; 2021, No. 139 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. May 27, 2022.)
- Subchapter 005: BANK PRODUCTS; PROHIBITIONS
§ 10501. Basic banking
It is the public policy of this State to promote the economic viability and prosperity of its residents and to promote, attract, and encourage savings. The General Assembly finds and declares that access to basic banking services for basic depository transactions is necessary for the payment of monthly expenses and for the encouragement of thrift by Vermont consumers. The General Assembly further finds and declares that reasonable cost basic banking services promote savings on the part of consumers who are young, old, or have low income, and provide, through means of payment by check, draft, negotiable order of withdrawal, or similar instrument, a viable alternative for cash transactions which is essential to all Vermont consumers. Therefore, it is the purpose of this chapter to ensure that basic banking services remain available to all Vermont consumers. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 25.)
§ 10502. Definitions relating to basic banking
As used in sections 10501 through 10504 of this title, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) “Basic checking account” means a deposit account on which the consumer is permitted to make payments or transfers by check, money order, or other negotiable instruments and which is maintained by such person for personal, family, or household purposes.
(2) “Basic savings account” means a savings account or statement savings which is maintained by such person for personal, family, or household purposes.
(3) “Consumer” means a natural person. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
§ 10503. Repealed. 2019 No. 20, § 102.
§ 10504. Basic banking rules
The Commissioner may adopt rules to require financial institutions with their principal place of business in this State to offer basic checking and savings accounts if the Commissioner finds a material deterioration in the availability and cost of basic checking and savings account services in the results of any two consecutive surveys. The rule adopted by the Commissioner under this section shall ensure that any required basic banking will not impair the safety and soundness of any affected financial institution and that any such rules shall not adversely affect other consumers of banking services. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 282, eff. July 1, 2022.)
§ 10505. Returned check charges
No depository institution or credit union shall assess a returned check charge or similar charge against a depositor for the costs of processing a check received by that depositor and returned for nonsufficient funds by the institution upon which it was drawn. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 73 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Feb. 2, 2002.)
§ 10506. Unsolicited distribution of cash advance contracts and notes
No person shall distribute by mail, or in any other manner, to a Vermont resident, an unsolicited cash advance contract or note in furtherance of that contract. A person who violates this section shall also be subject to the provisions of subchapter 6 of chapter 201 of this title. This section does not apply to:
(1) any communication by a lender with a borrower pursuant to a preexisting credit relationship, including the furnishing on an unsolicited basis of any check, card, plate or other means of accessing a preexisting loan or line of credit; or
(2) any unsolicited firm offer of credit made in compliance with the rules of the Federal Trade Commission relating to prescreening, as in effect from time to time. (Added 1999, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)
- Subchapter 006: COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS
§ 10601. Application
This subchapter shall apply to all persons licensed, authorized, or registered, or required to be licensed, authorized, or registered under Parts 2, 4, and 5 of this title. (Added 2005, No. 18, § 1; amended 2015, No. 128 (Adj. Sess.), § F.2, eff. May 24, 2016.)
§ 10602. Compliance with federal laws and regulations
(a) All persons subject to this subchapter shall comply with all applicable requirements of the Truth in Lending Act of 1968, Pub. L. No. 90-321, Title I and Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. Part 1026; the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974, Pub. L. No. 93-533 and Regulation X, 12 C.F.R. Part 1024; and the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, Pub. L. No. 91-508 and 31 C.F.R. Chapter X, as now or hereafter amended.
(b) The Commissioner may make such investigations and examinations to enforce the provisions of this subchapter as the Commissioner deems necessary or appropriate and may take any appropriate actions against any person whom the Commissioner has reason to believe has violated or is in violation of this subchapter. (Added 2005, No. 18, § 1; amended 2011, No. 21, § 2, eff. May 11, 2011; 2019, No. 20, § 103.)
§ 10603. Penalty
The Commissioner, in addition to using any other power exercisable by the Commissioner under this title, may:
(1) impose an administrative penalty of not more than $1,000.00 for each violation upon any person who violates or participates in a violation of any law or regulation described in this subchapter;
(2) impose an administrative penalty in an amount greater than the amount prescribed in subdivision (1) of this section if a greater amount is prescribed in the federal law or regulation violated;
(3) order any person to make restitution to any person injured as a result of any violation of this subchapter; and
(4) order any person to cease violating this subchapter. (Added 2005, No. 18, § 1.)
- Subchapter 007: REVERSE MORTGAGES
§ 10701. Definitions
As used in this subchapter:
(1) Financial institution. “Financial institution” means a financial institution as defined in subdivision 10202(5) of this chapter.
(2) Reverse mortgage loan. “Reverse mortgage loan” means a loan that:
(A) is a loan in which the committed principal amount is secured by a mortgage on residential property owned by the borrower;
(B) is due upon sale of the property securing the loan or upon the death of the last surviving borrower or upon the borrower terminating use of the real property as a principal residence or upon the borrower’s default;
(C) provides cash advances to the borrower based upon the equity or the value in the borrower’s owner-occupied principal residence; and
(D) requires no payment of principal or interest until the entire loan becomes due and payable. (Added 2009, No. 53, § 4; amended 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 283, eff. July 1, 2022.)
§ 10702. Counseling
Prior to accepting an application for a reverse mortgage loan, a financial institution shall refer every borrower to counseling from an organization that is a housing counseling agency approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and shall receive certification from the counselor that the borrower has received in-person, face-to-face counseling. However, if the borrower cannot or chooses not to travel to a counselor and cannot be visited by a counselor in their home, telephone counseling shall be provided by counseling agencies that are authorized by the Department of Financial Regulation. The certificate shall be signed by the borrower and the counselor and include the date of counseling; the name, address, and telephone number of both the borrower and the organization providing counseling; and shall be maintained by the holder of the reverse mortgage throughout the term of the reverse mortgage loan. (Added 2009, No. 53, § 4; amended 2011, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 2, 2012; 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 284, eff. July 1, 2022.)
§ 10703. Annuities
A financial institution shall not require an applicant for a reverse mortgage to purchase an annuity as a condition of obtaining a reverse mortgage loan. A financial institution or a broker arranging a reverse mortgage loan shall not:
(1) offer an annuity to the borrower prior to the closing of the reverse mortgage or before the expiration of the right of the borrower to rescind the reverse mortgage agreement;
(2) refer the borrower to anyone for the purchase of an annuity prior to the closing of the reverse mortgage or before the expiration of the right of the borrower to rescind the reverse mortgage agreement. (Added 2009, No. 53, § 4.)
§ 10704. Limitation on reverse mortgage loan programs
No financial institution shall issue a reverse mortgage loan unless it is a lender approved by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to enter into a loan insured by the federal government and the reverse mortgage loan complies with all requirements for participation in the HUD Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program (or other similar federal reverse mortgage loan program from time to time created) and is insured by the Federal Housing Administration or other similar federal agency or is a government sponsored enterprise reverse mortgage loan. (Added 2009, No. 53, § 4.)