Nikki Haley (R) has proposed new regulations that would require lenders to conduct background checks on all applicants for mortgage loans, a move she says will prevent a “lack and corruption” in the credit-reporting industry.
The move comes amid growing concerns over the nation’s ability to monitor and verify the accuracy of consumer financial data.
Haley said she had “no doubt” lenders would comply with the new rules, which are currently in the works.
She told reporters Wednesday the rules will “help prevent fraud and protect consumers from undue hardship.”
The state’s credit-monitoring agency is set to hold public hearings on the proposals in November.
Haley has been pushing to make lenders more transparent about how much credit they give applicants, but she has not offered any specifics about how the money is spent.
She has also been reluctant to take any steps to protect consumers against fraud, especially as the number of predatory lenders has skyrocketed.
She said Wednesday the state’s loan-review agency has “a very important job to do” to protect the public.
“We can’t afford to go backwards.
We need to make sure the credit system is functioning the way it should,” Haley said.
Haley’s office said the proposed rules would be put to a public vote in November, after which a decision will be made on whether to adopt them.
The new regulations would require applicants to submit to the lender a statement that they “are currently in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and policies, including the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act,” according to the governor’s office.
Haley had been a vocal critic of lenders’ practices, including some that are required to verify information on borrowers’ credit reports before they can accept them.
She recently signed a bill that required lenders to verify the borrowers’ income and assets before they could accept them, and she has also proposed legislation to allow borrowers to sue their lenders if they are unable to repay them.
“The industry has to come to a new understanding of what’s appropriate and acceptable,” Haley told reporters earlier this year.
“They can’t be hiding behind secrecy and deception.”
Haley, who took office in January, has been working to combat fraud by banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions.
She signed legislation this month that would ban all predatory lenders from participating in the Southeastern Cooperative Banks and the Southern Association of Realtors.
But she has been criticized for not taking a stronger stand against the payday lenders, who have proliferated across the South and elsewhere.
Last week, S.D. lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting the state from providing financial assistance to payday lenders.
That bill has been referred to the state legislature for consideration, but the governor said Thursday that she does not intend to sign it.
Haley, however, said she has “great confidence” that the legislature will pass a bill to prohibit the industry from operating in the state.
“I don’t think that any of the other bills are going to pass,” Haley continued.
“It is not something that I am looking forward to.”
The governor has also called for a national moratorium on payday loans for a year.