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Well, it’s 2010 and a lot of the laws related to transactional documents are changing. If you’re reading this, you presumably have some basic understanding of the laws involved, particularly “Reg Z” and the “CARD Law.” However, for those of us who are a little late to the party, let’s start from the beginning. And by “from the beginning” I mean, of course, in the middle, because some of these laws are already in place.

So what are we dealing with here? First, we have the regulations under Subpart B of Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”). You must stop and have a drink after saying the name of the law, let alone what is in the law. As mentioned, some of the requirements of the law have already gone into effect. For example, beginning August 20, 2009, credit card issuers must mail or deliver periodic statements at least 21 days before the payment due date. This is a change from the previous law, which only required 14 days. If you’re a card issuer (or any open credit issuer), this is a real kick in the keester, as receipt of funds can be delayed by a week and the float on that money just disappears.

But back to the documents. If you are part of the production team of these periodic excerpts, you missed the most important week of your month. The last. With a week of float lost, lenders won’t accept production or delivery delays (not that they were that willing before). So now, customer data, accuracy, and document automation are more important than ever.

Another part of the law that went into effect in August 2009 requires creditors to give at least 45 days’ notice of any APR increase or other significant change in terms. Of course, exactly what constitutes a “significant change in terms” is not stated. What is clear is that before any change, the creditor must inform the client of his right to cancel the line of credit. Please note that all of these laws focus on COMMUNICATION. The way we communicate with our customers has always been at the heart of TransPromo and is now more important than ever. So there it is: a brief summary of the Reg Z and CARD Act that are already in place. But we’re just getting warm.

The next important deadline to keep in mind is February 22, 2010. This is when most of the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2009 (better known to all of us as the Credit CARD Act Much More simple, or for our classes, simply “the Act”). I always thought it was an amazing coincidence that a credit card related act had the CARD acronym – it’s a testament to the geniuses in Congress! Unfortunately, while it was easy to find an abbreviated name, the requirements of the Act do not lend themselves to such simplification.

On February 22, 2010, we will have to deal with laws that are completely reshaping the way we handle transactional documents. The revised Reg Z imposes requirements that are likely to end up adding at least half a page to the average account statement. There is mandatory language regarding changing rates and fees on existing balances, a requirement that cardholders “opt in” to go over the fee limit (a huge source of revenue for lenders), assigning payments to the Higher APR and a paragraph or two in the calculation of the minimum payment.

All of these requirements, and many more, will be discussed in greater detail in future posts. The key takeaway from this should be that these changes present a challenge to those of us who work with documents and regulatory compliance. But there is also a great opportunity here. An opportunity to open a dialogue with our customers. An opportunity to take the data we have and use it to create truly personalized statements, unique to each client. An opportunity to use those individual statements not only to comply with the law, but also to improve our communication with clients.

We must comply with the law. That is not optional. Therefore, we have no alternative but to make changes to our transactional documents. If that’s the case (which it is), I suggest we’d be foolish not to seize this opportunity and use it to build our brands, engage customers and present them with all the options we can provide. .

Let me know if I can help clear this up for you in any way.

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