Comment for 1026.2 - Definitions and Rules of Construction
1. Coverage. Only commercial messages that promote consumer credit transactions requiring disclosures are advertisements. Messages inviting, offering, or otherwise announcing generally to prospective customers the availability of credit transactions, whether in visual, oral, or print media, are covered by Regulation Z (12 CFR part 1026).
i. Examples include:
A. Messages in a newspaper, magazine, leaflet, promotional flyer, or catalog.
B. Announcements on radio, television, or public address system.
C. Electronic advertisements, such as on the Internet.
D. Direct mail literature or other printed material on any exterior or interior sign.
E. Point of sale displays.
F. Telephone solicitations.
G. Price tags that contain credit information.
H. Letters sent to customers or potential customers as part of an organized solicitation of business.
I. Messages on checking account statements offering auto loans at a stated annual percentage rate.
J. Communications promoting a new open-end plan or closed-end transaction.
ii. The term does not include:
A. Direct personal contacts, such as follow-up letters, cost estimates for individual consumers, or oral or written communication relating to the negotiation of a specific transaction.
B. Informational material, for example, interest-rate and loan-term memos, distributed only to business entities.
C. Notices required by Federal or state law, if the law mandates that specific information be displayed and only the information so mandated is included in the notice.
D. News articles the use of which is controlled by the news medium.
E. Market-research or educational materials that do not solicit business.
F. Communications about an existing credit account (for example, a promotion encouraging additional or different uses of an existing credit card account).
2. Persons covered. All persons must comply with the advertising provisions in §§ 1026.16 and 1026.24, not just those that meet the definition of creditor in § 1026.2(a)(17). Thus, home builders, merchants, and others who are not themselves creditors must comply with the advertising provisions of the regulation if they advertise consumer credit transactions. However, under section 145 of the Act, the owner and the personnel of the medium in which an advertisement appears, or through which it is disseminated, are not subject to civil liability for violations.
1. In general. An application means the submission of a consumer's financial information for purposes of obtaining an extension of credit. For transactions subject to § 1026.19(e), (f), or (g) of this part, the term consists of the consumer's name, the consumer's income, the consumer's social security number to obtain a credit report, the property address, an estimate of the value of the property, and the mortgage loan amount sought. This definition does not prevent a creditor from collecting whatever additional information it deems necessary in connection with the request for the extension of credit. However, once a creditor has received these six pieces of information, it has an application for purposes of the requirements of Regulation Z. A submission may be in written or electronic format and includes a written record of an oral application. The following examples for a transaction subject to § 1026.19(e), (f), or (g) are illustrative of this provision:
i. Assume a creditor provides a consumer with an application form containing 20 questions about the consumer's credit history and the collateral value. The consumer submits answers to nine of the questions and informs the creditor that the consumer will contact the creditor the next day with answers to the other 11 questions. Although the consumer provided nine pieces of information, the consumer did not provide a social security number. The creditor has not yet received an application for purposes of § 1026.2(a)(3).
ii. Assume a creditor requires all applicants to submit 20 pieces of information. The consumer submits only six pieces of information and informs the creditor that the consumer will contact the creditor the next day with answers to the other 14 questions. The six pieces of information provided by the consumer were the consumer's name, income, social security number, property address, estimate of the value of the property, and the mortgage loan amount sought. Even though the creditor requires 14 additional pieces of information to process the consumer's request for a mortgage loan, the creditor has received an application for the purposes of § 1026.2(a)(3) and therefore must comply with the relevant requirements under § 1026.19.
2. Social security number to obtain a credit report. If a consumer does not have a social security number, the creditor may substitute whatever unique identifier the creditor uses to obtain a credit report on the consumer. For example, a creditor has obtained a social security number to obtain a credit report for purposes of § 1026.2(a)(3)(ii) if the creditor collects a Tax Identification Number from a consumer who does not have a social security number, such as a foreign national.
3. Receipt of credit report fees. Section 1026.19(a)(1)(iii) permits the imposition of a fee to obtain the consumer's credit history prior to the delivery of the disclosures required under § 1026.19(a)(1)(i). Section 1026.19(e)(2)(i)(B) permits the imposition of a fee to obtain the consumer's credit report prior to the delivery of the disclosures required under § 1026.19(e)(1)(i). Whether, or when, such fees are received does not affect whether an application has been received for the purposes of the definition in § 1026.2(a)(3) and the timing requirements in § 1026.19(a)(1)(i) and (e)(1)(iii). For example, if, in a transaction subject to § 1026.19(e)(1)(i), a creditor receives the six pieces of information identified under § 1026.2(a)(3)(ii) on Monday, June 1, but does not receive a credit report fee from the consumer until Tuesday, June 2, the creditor does not comply with § 1026.19(e)(1)(iii) if it provides the disclosures required under § 1026.19(e)(1)(i) after Thursday, June 4. The three-business-day period beings on Monday, June 1, the date the creditor received the six pieces of information. The waiting period does not begin on Tuesday, June 2, the date the creditor received the credit report fee.
2(a)(4) Billing Cycle or Cycle
1. Intervals. In open-end credit plans, the billing cycle determines the intervals for which periodic disclosure statements are required; these intervals are also used as measuring points for other duties of the creditor. Typically, billing cycles are monthly, but they may be more frequent or less frequent (but not less frequent than quarterly).
2. Creditors that do not bill. The term cycle is interchangeable with billing cycle for definitional purposes, since some creditors' cycles do not involve the sending of bills in the traditional sense but only statements of account activity. This is commonly the case with financial institutions when periodic payments are made through payroll deduction or through automatic debit of the consumer's asset account.
3. Equal cycles. Although cycles must be equal, there is a permissible variance to account for weekends, holidays, and differences in the number of days in months. If the actual date of each statement does not vary by more than four days from a fixed “day” (for example, the third Thursday of each month) or “date” (for example, the 15th of each month) that the creditor regularly uses, the intervals between statements are considered equal. The requirement that cycles be equal applies even if the creditor applies a daily periodic rate to determine the finance charge. The requirement that intervals be equal does not apply to the first billing cycle on an open-end account (i.e., the time period between account opening and the generation of the first periodic statement) or to a transitional billing cycle that can occur if the creditor occasionally changes its billing cycles so as to establish a new statement day or date. (See comments 9(c)(1)-3 and 9(c)(2)-3.)
4. Payment reminder. The sending of a regular payment reminder (rather than a late payment notice) establishes a cycle for which the creditor must send periodic statements.
2(a)(6) Business Day
1. Business function test. Activities that indicate that the creditor is open for substantially all of its business functions include the availability of personnel to make loan disbursements, to open new accounts, and to handle credit transaction inquiries. Activities that indicate that the creditor is not open for substantially all of its business functions include a retailer's merely accepting credit cards for purchases or a bank's having its customer-service windows open only for limited purposes such as deposits and withdrawals, bill paying, and related services.
2. Rule for rescission, disclosures for certain mortgage transactions, and private education loans. A more precise rule for what is a business day (all calendar days except Sundays and the Federal legal holidays specified in 5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) applies when the right of rescission, the receipt of disclosures for certain dwelling- or real estate-secured mortgage transactions under §§ 1026.19(a)(1)(ii), 1026.19(a)(2), 1026.19(e)(1)(iii)(B), 1026.19(e)(1)(iv), 1026.19(e)(2)(i)(A), 1026.19(e)(4)(ii), 1026.19(f)(1)(ii), 1026.19(f)(1)(iii), 1026.20(e)(5), 1026.31(c), or the receipt of disclosures for private education loans under § 1026.46(d)(4) is involved. Four Federal legal holidays are identified in 5 U.S.C. 6103(a) by a specific date: New Year's Day, January 1; Independence Day, July 4; Veterans Day, November 11; and Christmas Day, December 25. When one of these holidays (July 4, for example) falls on a Saturday, Federal offices and other entities might observe the holiday on the preceding Friday (July 3). In cases where the more precise rule applies, the observed holiday (in the example, July 3) is a business day.
2(a)(7) Card Issuer
i. An agent of a card issuer is considered a card issuer. Except as provided in comment 2(a)(7)–1.ii, because agency relationships are traditionally defined by contract and by state or other applicable law, the regulation does not define agent. Merely providing services relating to the production of credit cards or data processing for others, however, does not make one the agent of the card issuer. In contrast, a financial institution may become the agent of the card issuer if an agreement between the institution and the card issuer provides that the cardholder may use a line of credit with the financial institution to pay obligations incurred by use of the credit card.
ii. Under § 1026.2(a)(7), with respect to a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61 where that credit feature is offered by an affiliate or business partner of the prepaid account issuer as those terms are defined in § 1026.61, the affiliate or business partner offering the credit feature is an agent of the prepaid account issuer and thus, is itself a card issuer with respect to the hybrid prepaid-credit card.
2. Prepaid cards that are not hybrid prepaid-credit cards. See § 1026.61(a) and comments 61(a)(2)–5.iii and 61(a)(4)–1.iv for guidance on the applicability of this regulation in connection with credit accessible by prepaid cards that are not hybrid prepaid-credit cards.
1. General rule. A cardholder is a natural person at whose request a card is issued for consumer credit purposes or who is a co-obligor or guarantor for such a card issued to another. The second category does not include an employee who is a co-obligor or guarantor on a card issued to the employer for business purposes, nor does it include a person who is merely the authorized user of a card issued to another.
2. Limited application of regulation. For the limited purposes of the rules on issuance of credit cards and liability for unauthorized use, a cardholder includes any person, including an organization, to whom a card is issued for any purpose - including a business, agricultural, or commercial purpose.
3. Issuance. See the commentary to § 1026.12(a).
4. Dual-purpose cards and dual-card systems. Some card issuers offer dual-purpose cards that are for business as well as consumer purposes. If a card is issued to an individual for consumer purposes, the fact that an organization has guaranteed to pay the debt does not make it business credit. On the other hand, if a card is issued for business purposes, the fact that an individual sometimes uses it for consumer purchases does not subject the card issuer to the provisions on periodic statements, billing-error resolution, and other protections afforded to consumer credit. Some card issuers offer dual-card systems - that is, they issue two cards to the same individual, one intended for business use, the other for consumer or personal use. With such a system, the same person may be a cardholder for general purposes when using the card issued for consumer use, and a cardholder only for the limited purposes of the restrictions on issuance and liability when using the card issued for business purposes.
2(a)(9) Cash Price
1. Components. This amount is a starting point in computing the amount financed and the total sale price under § 1026.18 for credit sales. Any charges imposed equally in cash and credit transactions may be included in the cash price, or they may be treated as other amounts financed under § 1026.18(b)(2).
2. Service contracts. Service contracts include contracts for the repair or the servicing of goods, such as mechanical breakdown coverage, even if such a contract is characterized as insurance under state law.
3. Rebates. The creditor has complete flexibility in the way it treats rebates for purposes of disclosure and calculation. (See the commentary to § 1026.18(b).)
2(a)(10) Closed-End Credit
1. General. The coverage of this term is defined by exclusion. That is, it includes any credit arrangement that does not fall within the definition of open-end credit. Subpart C contains the disclosure rules for closed-end credit when the obligation is subject to a finance charge or is payable by written agreement in more than four installments.
1. Scope. Guarantors, endorsers, and sureties are not generally consumers for purposes of the regulation, but they may be entitled to rescind under certain circumstances and they may have certain rights if they are obligated on credit card plans.
2. Rescission rules. For purposes of rescission under §§ 1026.15 and 1026.23, a consumer includes any natural person whose ownership interest in his or her principal dwelling is subject to the risk of loss. Thus, if a security interest is taken in A's ownership interest in a house and that house is A's principal dwelling, A is a consumer for purposes of rescission, even if A is not liable, either primarily or secondarily, on the underlying consumer credit transaction. An ownership interest does not include, for example, leaseholds or inchoate rights, such as dower.
3. Trusts. Credit extended to trusts established for tax or estate planning purposes or to land trusts, as described in comment 3(a)-10, is considered to be extended to a natural person for purposes of the definition of consumer.
4. Successors in interest.
i. Assumption of the mortgage loan obligation. A servicer may not require a confirmed successor in interest to assume the mortgage loan obligation to be considered a consumer for purposes of §§ 1026.20(c) through (e), 1026.36(c), 1026.39, and 1026.41. If a successor in interest assumes a mortgage loan obligation under State law or is otherwise liable on the mortgage loan obligation, the protections the successor in interest enjoys under this part are not limited to §§ 1026.20(c) through (e), 1026.36(c), 1026.39, and 1026.41.
ii. Communications with confirmed successors in interest. Communications in compliance with this part to a confirmed successor in interest as defined in § 1026.2(a)(27)(ii) do not violate section 805(b) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) because consumer for purposes of FDCPA section 805 includes any person who meets the definition in this part of confirmed successor in interest.
iii. Treatment of transferor consumer. Even after a servicer's confirmation of a successor in interest, the servicer is still required to comply with all applicable requirements of §§ 1026.20(c) through (e), 1026.36(c), 1026.39, and 1026.41 with respect to the consumer who transferred an ownership interest to the successor in interest.
iv. Multiple notices unnecessary. Except as required by Regulation X, 12 CFR 1024.36, a servicer is not required to provide to a confirmed successor in interest any written disclosure required by § 1026.20(c), (d), or (e), § 1026.39, or § 1026.41 if the servicer is providing the same specific disclosure to another consumer on the account. For example, a servicer is not required to provide a periodic statement required by § 1026.41 to a confirmed successor in interest if the servicer is providing the same periodic statement to another consumer; a single statement may be sent in that billing cycle. If a servicer confirms more than one successor in interest, the servicer need not send any disclosure required by § 1026.20(c), (d), or (e), § 1026.39, or § 1026.41 to more than one of the confirmed successors in interest.
2(a)(12) Consumer Credit
1. Primary purpose. There is no precise test for what constitutes credit offered or extended for personal, family, or household purposes, nor for what constitutes the primary purpose. (See, however, the discussion of business purposes in the commentary to § 1026.3(a).)
1. State law governs. When a contractual obligation on the consumer's part is created is a matter to be determined under applicable law; Regulation Z does not make this determination. A contractual commitment agreement, for example, that under applicable law binds the consumer to the credit terms would be consummation. Consummation, however, does not occur merely because the consumer has made some financial investment in the transaction (for example, by paying a nonrefundable fee) unless, of course, applicable law holds otherwise.
2. Credit v. sale. Consummation does not occur when the consumer becomes contractually committed to a sale transaction, unless the consumer also becomes legally obligated to accept a particular credit arrangement. For example, when a consumer pays a nonrefundable deposit to purchase an automobile, a purchase contract may be created, but consummation for purposes of the regulation does not occur unless the consumer also contracts for financing at that time.
1. Exclusions. The following situations are not considered credit for purposes of the regulation:
i. Layaway plans, unless the consumer is contractually obligated to continue making payments. Whether the consumer is so obligated is a matter to be determined under applicable law. The fact that the consumer is not entitled to a refund of any amounts paid towards the cash price of the merchandise does not bring layaways within the definition of credit.
ii. Tax liens, tax assessments, court judgments, and court approvals of reaffirmation of debts in bankruptcy. However, third-party financing of such obligations (for example, a bank loan obtained to pay off a tax lien) is credit for purposes of the regulation.
iii. Insurance premium plans that involve payment in installments with each installment representing the payment for insurance coverage for a certain future period of time, unless the consumer is contractually obligated to continue making payments.
iv. Home improvement transactions that involve progress payments, if the consumer pays, as the work progresses, only for work completed and has no contractual obligation to continue making payments.
v. Borrowing against the accrued cash value of an insurance policy or a pension account, if there is no independent obligation to repay.
vi. Letters of credit.
vii. The execution of option contracts. However, there may be an extension of credit when the option is exercised, if there is an agreement at that time to defer payment of a debt.
viii. Investment plans in which the party extending capital to the consumer risks the loss of the capital advanced. This includes, for example, an arrangement with a home purchaser in which the investor pays a portion of the downpayment and of the periodic mortgage payments in return for an ownership interest in the property, and shares in any gain or loss of property value.
ix. Mortgage assistance plans administered by a government agency in which a portion of the consumer's monthly payment amount is paid by the agency. No finance charge is imposed on the subsidy amount, and that amount is due in a lump-sum payment on a set date or upon the occurrence of certain events. (If payment is not made when due, a new note imposing a finance charge may be written, which may then be subject to the regulation.)
2. Payday loans; deferred presentment. Credit includes a transaction in which a cash advance is made to a consumer in exchange for the consumer's personal check, or in exchange for the consumer's authorization to debit the consumer's deposit account, and where the parties agree either that the check will not be cashed or deposited, or that the consumer's deposit account will not be debited, until a designated future date. This type of transaction is often referred to as a “payday loan” or “payday advance” or “deferred-presentment loan.” A fee charged in connection with such a transaction may be a finance charge for purposes of § 1026.4, regardless of how the fee is characterized under state law. Where the fee charged constitutes a finance charge under § 1026.4 and the person advancing funds regularly extends consumer credit, that person is a creditor and is required to provide disclosures consistent with the requirements of Regulation Z. (See § 1026.2(a)(17).)
3. Transactions on the asset features of prepaid accounts when there are insufficient or unavailable funds. Credit includes authorization of a transaction on the asset feature of a prepaid account as defined in § 1026.61 where the consumer has insufficient or unavailable funds in the asset feature of the prepaid account at the time the transaction is authorized to cover the amount of the transaction. It also includes settlement of a transaction on the asset feature of a prepaid account where the consumer has insufficient or unavailable funds in the asset feature of the prepaid account at the time the transaction is settled to cover the amount of the transaction. This includes a transaction where the consumer has sufficient or available funds in the asset feature of a prepaid account to cover the amount of the transaction at the time the transaction is authorized but insufficient or unavailable funds in the asset feature of the prepaid account to cover the transaction amount at the time the transaction is settled. See § 1026.61 and related commentary on the applicability of this regulation to credit that is extended in connection with a prepaid account.
1. Usable from time to time. A credit card must be usable from time to time. Since this involves the possibility of repeated use of a single device, checks and similar instruments that can be used only once to obtain a single credit extension are not credit cards.
i. Examples of credit cards include:
A. A card that guarantees checks or similar instruments, if the asset account is also tied to an overdraft line or if the instrument directly accesses a line of credit.
B. A debit card (other than a debit card that is solely an account number) that also accesses a credit account (that is, a debit-credit card). See comment 2(a)(15)–2.ii.C for guidance on whether a debit card that is solely an account number is a credit card.
C. An identification card that permits the consumer to defer payment on a purchase.
D. An identification card indicating loan approval that is presented to a merchant or to a lender, whether or not the consumer signs a separate promissory note for each credit extension.
E. A card or device that can be activated upon receipt to access credit, even if the card has a substantive use other than credit, such as a purchase-price discount card. Such a card or device is a credit card notwithstanding the fact that the recipient must first contact the card issuer to access or activate the credit feature.
F. A prepaid card that is a hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61.
ii. In contrast, credit card does not include, for example:
A. A check-guarantee or debit card with no credit feature or agreement, even if the creditor occasionally honors an inadvertent overdraft.
B. Any card, key, plate, or other device that is used in order to obtain petroleum products for business purposes from a wholesale distribution facility or to gain access to that facility, and that is required to be used without regard to payment terms.
C. An account number that accesses a credit account, unless the account number can access an open-end line of credit to purchase goods or services or as provided in § 1026.61 with respect to a hybrid prepaid-credit card. For example, if a creditor provides a consumer with an open-end line of credit that can be accessed by an account number in order to transfer funds into another account (such as an asset account with the same creditor), the account number is not a credit card for purposes of § 1026.2(a)(15)(i). However, if the account number can also access the line of credit to purchase goods or services (such as an account number that can be used to purchase goods or services on the Internet), the account number is a credit card for purposes of § 1026.2(a)(15)(i), regardless of whether the creditor treats such transactions as purchases, cash advances, or some other type of transaction. Furthermore, if the line of credit can also be accessed by a card (such as a debit card), that card is a credit card for purposes of § 1026.2(a)(15)(i).
D. A prepaid card that is not a hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61.
3. Charge card.
i. Charge cards are credit cards where no periodic rate is used to compute the finance charge. Under the regulation, a reference to credit cards generally includes charge cards. In particular, references to credit card accounts under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan in subparts B and G generally include charge cards. The term charge card is, however, distinguished from credit card or credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan in §§ 1026.6(b)(2)(xiv), 1026.7(b)(11) (except as described in comment 2(a)(15)–3.ii below), 1026.7(b)(12), 1026.9(e), 1026.9(f), 1026.28(d), 1026.52(b)(1)(ii)(C), 1026.60, and appendices G-10 through G-13.
ii. A hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61 is a charge card with respect to a covered separate credit feature if no periodic rate is used to compute the finance charge in connection with the covered separate credit feature. Unlike other charge card accounts, the requirements in § 1026.7(b)(11) apply to a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card that is a charge card when that covered separate credit feature is a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan. Thus, under § 1026.5(b)(2)(ii)(A), with respect to a covered separate credit feature that is a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan, a card issuer of a hybrid prepaid-credit card that meets the definition of a charge card because no periodic rate is used to compute a finance charge in connection with the covered separate credit feature must adopt reasonable procedures for the covered separate credit feature designed to ensure that (1) periodic statements are mailed or delivered at least 21 days prior to the payment due date disclosed on the statement pursuant to § 1026.7(b)(11)(i)(A); and (2) the card issuer does not treat as late for any purposes a required minimum periodic payment received by the card issuer within 21 days after mailing or delivery of the periodic statement disclosing the due date for that payment.
4. Credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan. i. An open-end consumer credit account is a credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan for purposes of § 1026.2(a)(15)(ii) if:
A. The account is accessed by a credit card, as defined in § 1026.2(a)(15)(i); and
B. The account is not excluded under § 1026.2(a)(15)(ii)(A) through (C).
ii. As noted in § 1026.2(a)(15)(ii)(C), the exclusion from credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) consumer credit plan provided by that paragraph for an overdraft line of credit that is accessed by an account number does not apply to a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card (including a hybrid prepaid-credit card that is solely an account number) as defined in § 1026.61.
2(a)(16) Credit Sale
1. Special disclosure. If the seller is a creditor in the transaction, the transaction is a credit sale and the special credit sale disclosures (that is, the disclosures under § 1026.18(j)) must be given. This applies even if there is more than one creditor in the transaction and the creditor making the disclosures is not the seller. (See the commentary to § 1026.17(d).)
2. Sellers who arrange credit. If the seller of the property or services involved arranged for financing but is not a creditor as to that sale, the transaction is not a credit sale. Thus, if a seller assists the consumer in obtaining a direct loan from a financial institution and the consumer's note is payable to the financial institution, the transaction is a loan and only the financial institution is a creditor.
3. Refinancings. Generally, when a credit sale is refinanced within the meaning of § 1026.20(a), loan disclosures should be made. However, if a new sale of goods or services is also involved, the transaction is a credit sale.
4. Incidental sales. Some lenders sell a product or service - such as credit, property, or health insurance - as part of a loan transaction. Section 1026.4 contains the rules on whether the cost of credit life, disability or property insurance is part of the finance charge. If the insurance is financed, it may be disclosed as a separate credit-sale transaction or disclosed as part of the primary transaction; if the latter approach is taken, either loan or credit-sale disclosures may be made. (See the commentary to § 1026.17(c)(1) for further discussion of this point.)
5. Credit extensions for educational purposes. A credit extension for educational purposes in which an educational institution is the creditor may be treated as either a credit sale or a loan, regardless of whether the funds are given directly to the student, credited to the student's account, or disbursed to other persons on the student's behalf. The disclosure of the total sale price need not be given if the transaction is treated as a loan.
1. General. The definition contains four independent tests. If any one of the tests is met, the person is a creditor for purposes of that particular test.
1. Prerequisites. This test is composed of two requirements, both of which must be met in order for a particular credit extension to be subject to the regulation and for the credit extension to count towards satisfaction of the numerical tests mentioned in § 1026.2(a)(17)(v).
i. First, there must be either or both of the following:
A. A written (rather than oral) agreement to pay in more than four installments. A letter that merely confirms an oral agreement does not constitute a written agreement for purposes of the definition.
B. A finance charge imposed for the credit. The obligation to pay the finance charge need not be in writing.
ii. Second, the obligation must be payable to the person in order for that person to be considered a creditor. If an obligation is made payable to bearer, the creditor is the one who initially accepts the obligation.
2. Assignees. If an obligation is initially payable to one person, that person is the creditor even if the obligation by its terms is simultaneously assigned to another person. For example:
i. An auto dealer and a bank have a business relationship in which the bank supplies the dealer with credit sale contracts that are initially made payable to the dealer and provide for the immediate assignment of the obligation to the bank. The dealer and purchaser execute the contract only after the bank approves the creditworthiness of the purchaser. Because the obligation is initially payable on its face to the dealer, the dealer is the only creditor in the transaction.
3. Numerical tests. The examples below illustrate how the numerical tests of § 1026.2(a)(17)(v) are applied. The examples assume that consumer credit with a finance charge or written agreement for more than 4 installments was extended in the years in question and that the person did not extend such credit in 2006.
4. Counting transactions. For purposes of closed-end credit, the creditor counts each credit transaction. For open-end credit, transactions means accounts, so that outstanding accounts are counted instead of individual credit extensions. Normally the number of transactions is measured by the preceding calendar year; if the requisite number is met, then the person is a creditor for all transactions in the current year. However, if the person did not meet the test in the preceding year, the number of transactions is measured by the current calendar year. For example, if the person extends consumer credit 26 times in 2007, it is a creditor for purposes of the regulation for the last extension of credit in 2007 and for all extensions of consumer credit in 2008. On the other hand, if a business begins in 2007 and extends consumer credit 20 times, it is not a creditor for purposes of the regulation in 2007. If it extends consumer credit 75 times in 2008, however, it becomes a creditor for purposes of the regulation (and must begin making disclosures) after the 25th extension of credit in that year and is a creditor for all extensions of consumer credit in 2009.
5. Relationship between consumer credit in general and credit secured by a dwelling. Extensions of credit secured by a dwelling are counted towards the 25-extensions test. For example, if in 2007 a person extends unsecured consumer credit 23 times and consumer credit secured by a dwelling twice, it becomes a creditor for the succeeding extensions of credit, whether or not they are secured by a dwelling. On the other hand, extensions of consumer credit not secured by a dwelling are not counted towards the number of credit extensions secured by a dwelling. For example, if in 2007 a person extends credit not secured by a dwelling 8 times and credit secured by a dwelling 3 times, it is not a creditor.
6. Effect of satisfying one test. Once one of the numerical tests is satisfied, the person is also a creditor for the other type of credit. For example, in 2007 a person extends consumer credit secured by a dwelling 5 times. That person is a creditor for all succeeding credit extensions, whether they involve credit secured by a dwelling or not.
7. Trusts. In the case of credit extended by trusts, each individual trust is considered a separate entity for purposes of applying the criteria. For example:
i. A bank is the trustee for three trusts. Trust A makes 15 extensions of consumer credit annually; Trust B makes 10 extensions of consumer credit annually; and Trust C makes 30 extensions of consumer credit annually. Only Trust C is a creditor for purposes of the regulation.
8. Prepaid cards that are not hybrid prepaid-credit cards. See § 1026.61(a) and comments 61(a)(2)–5.iii and 61(a)(4)–1.iv for guidance on the applicability of this regulation in connection with credit accessible by prepaid cards that are not hybrid prepaid-credit cards.
Paragraph 2(a)(17)(ii) [Reserved]
1. Card issuers subject to Subpart B. Section 1026.2(a)(17)(iii) makes certain card issuers creditors for purposes of the open-end credit provisions of the regulation. This includes, for example, the issuers of so-called travel and entertainment cards that expect repayment at the first billing and do not impose a finance charge. Since all disclosures are to be made only as applicable, such card issuers would omit finance charge disclosures. Other provisions of the regulation regarding such areas as scope, definitions, determination of which charges are finance charges, Spanish language disclosures, record retention, and use of model forms, also apply to such card issuers.
2. Prepaid cards that are not hybrid prepaid-credit cards. See § 1026.61(a) and comments 61(a)(2)–5.iii and 61(a)(4)–1.iv for guidance on the applicability of this regulation in connection with credit accessible by prepaid cards that are not hybrid prepaid-credit cards.
1. Card issuers subject to Subparts B and C. Section 1026.2(a)(17)(iv) includes as creditors card issuers extending closed-end credit in which there is a finance charge or an agreement to pay in more than four installments. These card issuers are subject to the appropriate provisions of Subparts B and C, as well as to the general provisions.
1. Allocation. If a consumer makes a lump-sum payment, partially to reduce the cash price and partially to pay prepaid finance charges, only the portion attributable to reducing the cash price is part of the downpayment. (See the commentary to § 1026.2(a)(23).)
2. Pick-up payments.
i. Creditors may treat the deferred portion of the downpayment, often referred to as pick-up payments, in a number of ways. If the pick-up payment is treated as part of the downpayment:
A. It is subtracted in arriving at the amount financed under § 1026.18(b).
B. It may, but need not, be reflected in the payment schedule under § 1026.18(g).
ii. If the pick-up payment does not meet the definition (for example, if it is payable after the second regularly scheduled payment) or if the creditor chooses not to treat it as part of the downpayment:
A. It must be included in the amount financed.B. It must be shown in the payment schedule.
iii. Whichever way the pick-up payment is treated, the total of payments under § 1026.18(h) must equal the sum of the payments disclosed under § 1026.18(g).
3. Effect of existing liens.
i. No cash payment. In a credit sale, the “downpayment” may only be used to reduce the cash price. For example, when a trade-in is used as the downpayment and the existing lien on an automobile to be traded in exceeds the value of the automobile, creditors must disclose a zero on the downpayment line rather than a negative number. To illustrate, assume a consumer owes $10,000 on an existing automobile loan and that the trade-in value of the automobile is only $8,000, leaving a $2,000 deficit. The creditor should disclose a downpayment of $0, not −$2,000.
ii. Cash payment. If the consumer makes a cash payment, creditors may, at their option, disclose the entire cash payment as the downpayment, or apply the cash payment first to any excess lien amount and disclose any remaining cash as the downpayment. In the above example:
A. If the downpayment disclosed is equal to the cash payment, the $2,000 deficit must be reflected as an additional amount financed under § 1026.18(b)(2).
B. If the consumer provides $1,500 in cash (which does not extinguish the $2,000 deficit), the creditor may disclose a downpayment of $1,500 or of $0.
C. If the consumer provides $3,000 in cash, the creditor may disclose a downpayment of $3,000 or of $1,000.
1. Scope. A dwelling need not be the consumer's principal residence to fit the definition, and thus a vacation or second home could be a dwelling. However, for purposes of the definition of residential mortgage transaction and the right to rescind, a dwelling must be the principal residence of the consumer. (See the commentary to §§ 1026.2(a)(24), 1026.15, and 1026.23.)
2. Use as a residence. Mobile homes, boats, and trailers are dwellings if they are in fact used as residences, just as are condominium and cooperative units. Recreational vehicles, campers, and the like not used as residences are not dwellings.
3. Relation to exemptions. Any transaction involving a security interest in a consumer's principal dwelling (as well as in any real property) remains subject to the regulation despite the general exemption in § 1026.3(b).
2(a)(20) Open-End Credit
1. General. This definition describes the characteristics of open-end credit (for which the applicable disclosure and other rules are contained in Subpart B), as distinct from closed-end credit. Open-end credit is consumer credit that is extended under a plan and meets all 3 criteria set forth in the definition.
2. Existence of a plan.
i. The definition requires that there be a plan, which connotes a contractual arrangement between the creditor and the consumer.
ii. With respect to a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61, a plan means a program where the consumer is obligated contractually to repay any credit extended by the creditor. For example, a plan includes a program under which a creditor routinely extends credit from a covered separate credit feature offered by the prepaid account issuer, its affiliate, or its business partner where the prepaid card can be used from time to time to draw, transfer, or authorize the draw or transfer of credit from the covered separate credit feature in the course of authorizing, settling, or otherwise completing transactions conducted with the card to obtain goods or services, obtain cash, or conduct person-to-person transfers, and the consumer is obligated contractually to repay those credit transactions. Such a program constitutes a plan notwithstanding that, for example, the creditor has not agreed in writing to extend credit for those transactions, the creditor retains discretion not to extend credit for those transactions, or the creditor does not extend credit for those transactions once the consumer has exceeded a certain amount of credit. See § 1026.61(a) and related commentary for guidance on the applicability of this regulation to credit accessible by hybrid prepaid-credit cards.
iii. Some creditors offer programs containing a number of different credit features. The consumer has a single account with the institution that can be accessed repeatedly via a number of sub-accounts established for the different program features and rate structures. Some features of the program might be used repeatedly (for example, an overdraft line) while others might be used infrequently (such as the part of the credit line available for secured credit). If the program as a whole is subject to prescribed terms and otherwise meets the definition of open-end credit, such a program would be considered a single, multifeatured plan.
3. Repeated transactions. Under this criterion, the creditor must reasonably contemplate repeated transactions. This means that the credit plan must be usable from time to time and the creditor must legitimately expect that there will be repeat business rather than a one-time credit extension. The creditor must expect repeated dealings with consumers under the credit plan as a whole and need not believe a consumer will reuse a particular feature of the plan. The determination of whether a creditor can reasonably contemplate repeated transactions requires an objective analysis. Information that much of the creditor's customer base with accounts under the plan make repeated transactions over some period of time is relevant to the determination, particularly when the plan is opened primarily for the financing of infrequently purchased products or services. A standard based on reasonable belief by a creditor necessarily includes some margin for judgmental error. The fact that particular consumers do not return for further credit extensions does not prevent a plan from having been properly characterized as open-end. For example, if much of the customer base of a clothing store makes repeat purchases, the fact that some consumers use the plan only once would not affect the characterization of the store's plan as open-end credit. The criterion regarding repeated transactions is a question of fact to be decided in the context of the creditor's type of business and the creditor's relationship with its customers. For example, it would be more reasonable for a bank or depository institution to contemplate repeated transactions with a customer than for a seller of aluminum siding to make the same assumption about its customers.
4. Finance charge on an outstanding balance.
i. The requirement that a finance charge may be computed and imposed from time to time on the outstanding balance means that there is no specific amount financed for the plan for which the finance charge, total of payments, and payment schedule can be calculated. A plan may meet the definition of open-end credit even though a finance charge is not normally imposed, provided the creditor has the right, under the plan, to impose a finance charge from time to time on the outstanding balance. For example, in some plans, a finance charge is not imposed if the consumer pays all or a specified portion of the outstanding balance within a given time period. Such a plan could meet the finance charge criterion, if the creditor has the right to impose a finance charge, even though the consumer actually pays no finance charges during the existence of the plan because the consumer takes advantage of the option to pay the balance (either in full or in installments) within the time necessary to avoid finance charges.
ii. With regard to a covered separate credit feature and an asset feature on a prepaid account that are both accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card as defined in § 1026.61, any service, transaction, activity, or carrying charges imposed on the covered separate credit feature, and any such charges imposed on the asset feature of the prepaid account to the extent that the amount of the charge exceeds comparable charges imposed on prepaid accounts in the same prepaid account program that do not have a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card, generally is a finance charge. See § 1026.4(a) and (b)(11). Such charges include a periodic fee to participate in the covered separate credit feature, regardless of whether this fee is imposed on the credit feature or on the asset feature of the prepaid account. With respect to credit from a covered separate credit feature accessible by a hybrid prepaid-credit card, any service, transaction, activity, or carrying charges that are finance charges under § 1026.4 constitute finance charges imposed from time to time on an outstanding unpaid balance as described in § 1026.2(a)(20) if there is no specific amount financed for the credit feature for which the finance charge, total of payments, and payment schedule can be calculated.
5. Reusable line. The total amount of credit that may be extended during the existence of an open-end plan is unlimited because available credit is generally replenished as earlier advances are repaid. A line of credit is self-replenishing even though the plan itself has a fixed expiration date, as long as during the plan's existence the consumer may use the line, repay, and reuse the credit. The creditor may occasionally or routinely verify credit information such as the consumer's continued income and employment status or information for security purposes but, to meet the definition of open-end credit, such verification of credit information may not be done as a condition of granting a consumer's request for a particular advance under the plan. In general, a credit line is self-replenishing if the consumer can take further advances as outstanding balances are repaid without being required to separately apply for those additional advances. A credit card account where the plan as a whole replenishes meets the self-replenishing criterion, notwithstanding the fact that a credit card issuer may verify credit information from time to time in connection with specific transactions. This criterion of unlimited credit distinguishes open-end credit from a series of advances made pursuant to a closed-end credit loan commitment. For example:
i. Under a closed-end commitment, the creditor might agree to lend a total of $10,000 in a series of advances as needed by the consumer. When a consumer has borrowed the full $10,000, no more is advanced under that particular agreement, even if there has been repayment of a portion of the debt. (See § 1026.2(a)(17)(iv) for disclosure requirements when a credit card is used to obtain the advances.)
ii. This criterion does not mean that the creditor must establish a specific credit limit for the line of credit or that the line of credit must always be replenished to its original amount. The creditor may reduce a credit limit or refuse to extend new credit in a particular case due to changes in the creditor's financial condition or the consumer's creditworthiness. (The rules in § 1026.40(f), however, limit the ability of a creditor to suspend credit advances for home equity plans.) While consumers should have a reasonable expectation of obtaining credit as long as they remain current and within any preset credit limits, further extensions of credit need not be an absolute right in order for the plan to meet the self-replenishing criterion.
6. Verifications of collateral value. Creditors that otherwise meet the requirements of § 1026.2(a)(20) extend open-end credit notwithstanding the fact that the creditor must verify collateral values to comply with Federal, state, or other applicable law or verifies the value of collateral in connection with a particular advance under the plan.
7. Open-end real estate mortgages. Some credit plans call for negotiated advances under so-called open-end real estate mortgages. Each such plan must be independently measured against the definition of open-end credit, regardless of the terminology used in the industry to describe the plan. The fact that a particular plan is called an open-end real estate mortgage, for example, does not, by itself, mean that it is open-end credit under the regulation.
2(a)(21) Periodic Rate
1. Basis. The periodic rate may be stated as a percentage (for example, 1 and 1/2% per month) or as a decimal equivalent (for example, .015 monthly). It may be based on any portion of a year the creditor chooses. Some creditors use 1/360 of an annual rate as their periodic rate. These creditors:
i. May disclose a 1/360 rate as a daily periodic rate, without further explanation, if it is in fact only applied 360 days per year. But if the creditor applies that rate for 365 days, the creditor must note that fact and, of course, disclose the true annual percentage rate.
ii. Would have to apply the rate to the balance to disclose the annual percentage rate with the degree of accuracy required in the regulation (that is, within 1/8th of 1 percentage point of the rate based on the actual 365 days in the year).
2. Transaction charges. Periodic rate does not include initial one-time transaction charges, even if the charge is computed as a percentage of the transaction amount.
1. Joint ventures. A joint venture is an organization and is therefore a person.
2. Attorneys. An attorney and his or her client are considered to be the same person for purposes of this part when the attorney is acting within the scope of the attorney-client relationship with regard to a particular transaction.
3. Trusts. A trust and its trustee are considered to be the same person for purposes of this part.
2(a)(23) Prepaid Finance Charge
1. General. Prepaid finance charges must be taken into account under § 1026.18(b) in computing the disclosed amount financed, and must be disclosed if the creditor provides an itemization of the amount financed under § 1026.18(c).
i. Common examples of prepaid finance charges include:
A. Buyer's points.
B. Service fees.
C. Loan fees.
D. Finder's fees.
E. Loan-guarantee insurance.
F. Credit-investigation fees.
ii. However, in order for these or any other finance charges to be considered prepaid, they must be either paid separately in cash or check or withheld from the proceeds. Prepaid finance charges include any portion of the finance charge paid prior to or at closing or settlement.
3. Exclusions. Add-on and discount finance charges are not prepaid finance charges for purposes of this part. Finance charges are not prepaid merely because they are precomputed, whether or not a portion of the charge will be rebated to the consumer upon prepayment. (See the commentary to § 1026.18(b).)
4. Allocation of lump-sum payments. In a credit sale transaction involving a lump-sum payment by the consumer and a discount or other item that is a finance charge under § 1026.4, the discount or other item is a prepaid finance charge to the extent the lump-sum payment is not applied to the cash price. For example, a seller sells property to a consumer for $10,000, requires the consumer to pay $3,000 at the time of the purchase, and finances the remainder as a closed-end credit transaction. The cash price of the property is $9,000. The seller is the creditor in the transaction and therefore the $1,000 difference between the credit and cash prices (the discount) is a finance charge. (See the commentary to § 1026.4(b)(9) and (c)(5).) If the creditor applies the entire $3,000 to the cash price and adds the $1,000 finance charge to the interest on the $6,000 to arrive at the total finance charge, all of the $3,000 lump-sum payment is a downpayment and the discount is not a prepaid finance charge. However, if the creditor only applies $2,000 of the lump-sum payment to the cash price, then $2,000 of the $3,000 is a downpayment and the $1,000 discount is a prepaid finance charge.
2(a)(24) Residential Mortgage Transaction
1. Relation to other sections. This term is important in five provisions in the regulation:
i. Section 1026.4(c)(7) - exclusions from the finance charge.
ii. Section 1026.15(f) - exemption from the right of rescission.
iii. Section 1026.18(q) - whether or not the obligation is assumable.
iv. Section 1026.20(b) - disclosure requirements for assumptions.
v. Section 1026.23(f) - exemption from the right of rescission.
2. Lien status. The definition is not limited to first lien transactions. For example, a consumer might assume a paid-down first mortgage (or borrow part of the purchase price) and borrow the balance of the purchase price from a creditor who takes a second mortgage. The second mortgage transaction is a residential mortgage transaction if the dwelling purchased is the consumer's principal residence.
3. Principal dwelling. A consumer can have only one principal dwelling at a time. Thus, a vacation or other second home would not be a principal dwelling. However, if a consumer buys or builds a new dwelling that will become the consumer's principal dwelling within a year or upon the completion of construction, the new dwelling is considered the principal dwelling for purposes of applying this definition to a particular transaction. (See the commentary to §§ 1026.15(a) and 1026.23(a).)
4. Construction financing. If a transaction meets the definition of a residential mortgage transaction and the creditor chooses to disclose it as several transactions under § 1026.17(c)(6), each one is considered to be a residential mortgage transaction, even if different creditors are involved. For example:
i. The creditor makes a construction loan to finance the initial construction of the consumer's principal dwelling, and the loan will be disbursed in five advances. The creditor gives six sets of disclosures (five for the construction phase and one for the permanent phase). Each one is a residential mortgage transaction.
ii. One creditor finances the initial construction of the consumer's principal dwelling and another creditor makes a loan to satisfy the construction loan and provide permanent financing. Both transactions are residential mortgage transactions.
i. A residential mortgage transaction finances the acquisition of a consumer's principal dwelling. The term does not include a transaction involving a consumer's principal dwelling if the consumer had previously purchased and acquired some interest to the dwelling, even though the consumer had not acquired full legal title.
ii. Examples of new transactions involving a previously acquired dwelling include the financing of a balloon payment due under a land sale contract and an extension of credit made to a joint owner of property to buy out the other joint owner's interest. In these instances, disclosures are not required under § 1026.18(q) (assumability policies). However, the rescission rules of §§ 1026.15 and 1026.23 do apply to these new transactions.
iii. In other cases, the disclosure and rescission rules do not apply. For example, where a buyer enters into a written agreement with the creditor holding the seller's mortgage, allowing the buyer to assume the mortgage, if the buyer had previously purchased the property and agreed with the seller to make the mortgage payments, § 1026.20(b) does not apply (assumptions involving residential mortgages).
6. Multiple purpose transactions. A transaction meets the definition of this section if any part of the loan proceeds will be used to finance the acquisition or initial construction of the consumer's principal dwelling. For example, a transaction to finance the initial construction of the consumer's principal dwelling is a residential mortgage transaction even if a portion of the funds will be disbursed directly to the consumer or used to satisfy a loan for the purchase of the land on which the dwelling will be built.
7. Construction on previously acquired vacant land. A residential mortgage transaction includes a loan to finance the construction of a consumer's principal dwelling on a vacant lot previously acquired by the consumer.
2(a)(25) Security Interest
1. Threshold test. The threshold test is whether a particular interest in property is recognized as a security interest under applicable law. The regulation does not determine whether a particular interest is a security interest under applicable law. If the creditor is unsure whether a particular interest is a security interest under applicable law (for example, if statutes and case law are either silent or inconclusive on the issue), the creditor may at its option consider such interests as security interests for Truth in Lending purposes. However, the regulation and the commentary do exclude specific interests, such as after-acquired property and accessories, from the scope of the definition regardless of their categorization under applicable law, and these named exclusions may not be disclosed as security interests under the regulation. (But see the discussion of exclusions elsewhere in the commentary to § 1026.2(a)(25).)
2. Exclusions. The general definition of security interest excludes three groups of interests: incidental interests, interests in after-acquired property, and interests that arise solely by operation of law. These interests may not be disclosed with the disclosures required under §§ 1026.18, 1026.19(e) and (f), and 1026.38(l)(6), but the creditor is not precluded from preserving these rights elsewhere in the contract documents, or invoking and enforcing such rights, if it is otherwise lawful to do so. If the creditor is unsure whether a particular interest is one of the excluded interests, the creditor may, at its option, consider such interests as security interests for purposes of the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) and Regulation Z.
3. Incidental interests.
i. Incidental interests in property that are not security interests include, among other things:
A. Assignment of rents.
B. Right to condemnation proceeds.
C. Interests in accessories and replacements.
D. Interests in escrow accounts, such as for taxes and insurance.
E. Waiver of homestead or personal property rights.
ii. The notion of an incidental interest does not encompass an explicit security interest in an insurance policy if that policy is the primary collateral for the transaction - for example, in an insurance premium financing transaction.
4. Operation of law. Interests that arise solely by operation of law are excluded from the general definition. Also excluded are interests arising by operation of law that are merely repeated or referred to in the contract. However, if the creditor has an interest that arises by operation of law, such as a vendor's lien, and takes an independent security interest in the same property, such as a UCC security interest, the latter interest is a disclosable security interest unless otherwise provided.
5. Rescission rules. Security interests that arise solely by operation of law are security interests for purposes of rescission. Examples of such interests are mechanics' and materialmen's liens.
6. Specificity of disclosure. A creditor need not separately disclose multiple security interests that it may hold in the same collateral. The creditor need only disclose that the transaction is secured by the collateral, even when security interests from prior transactions remain of record and a new security interest is taken in connection with the transaction. In disclosing the fact that the transaction is secured by the collateral, the creditor also need not disclose how the security interest arose. For example, in a closed-end credit transaction, a rescission notice need not specifically state that a new security interest is “acquired” or an existing security interest is “retained” in the transaction. The acquisition or retention of a security interest in the consumer's principal dwelling instead may be disclosed in a rescission notice with a general statement such as the following: “Your home is the security for the new transaction.”
2(a)(27)(i) Successor in interest
1. Joint tenants and tenants by the entirety. If a consumer who has an ownership interest as a joint tenant or tenant by the entirety in a dwelling securing a closed-end consumer credit transaction dies, a surviving joint tenant or tenant by the entirety with a right of survivorship in the property is a successor in interest as defined in § 1026.2(a)(27)(i).
2. Beneficiaries of inter vivos trusts. In the event of a transfer into an inter vivos trust in which the consumer is and remains a beneficiary and which does not relate to a transfer of rights of occupancy in the property, the beneficiaries of the inter vivos trust rather than the inter vivos trust itself are considered to be the successors in interest for purposes of § 1026.2(a)(27)(i). For example, assume Consumer A transfers her home into such an inter vivos trust for the benefit of her spouse and herself. As of the transfer date, Consumer A and her spouse are considered successors in interest and, upon confirmation, are consumers for purposes of certain provisions of this part. If the creditor has not released Consumer A from the loan obligation, Consumer A also remains a consumer more generally for purposes of this part.
2(b) Rules of Construction
2. Amount. The numerical amount must be a dollar amount unless otherwise indicated. For example, in a closed-end transaction (Subpart C), the amount financed and the amount of any payment must be expressed as a dollar amount. In some cases, an amount should be expressed as a percentage. For example, in disclosures provided before the first transaction under an open-end plan (Subpart B), creditors are permitted to explain how the amount of any finance charge will be determined; where a cash-advance fee (which is a finance charge) is a percentage of each cash advance, the amount of the finance charge for that fee is expressed as a percentage.