Congress Passes Consumer Protection, Regulatory Relief Legislation with Hoeven-Cosponsored Provisions to Prevent Fraud, Streamline Rural Home Appraisals.

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that enhances consumer protections, while also providing regulatory relief for small community banks and credit unions. The bill was passed by the Senate in March, and now goes to the president to be signed into law. Hoeven cosponsored and worked to ensure the inclusion of the following provisions in the legislation, which will help prevent fraud and identify theft as well as provide flexibility for home appraisals in rural areas:

  • Protecting Children from Identity Theft – Helps financial institutions combat synthetic identity fraud, which involves stealing one aspect of a person’s identity, such as a Social Security Number, to create a completely new identity. The measure requires the Social Security Commissioner to provide financial institutions with additional tools to verify a person’s name, date of birth and social security number.
  • Empowering the Disclosure of Suspected Fraud – Provides liability protection for whistleblowers at financial institutions that disclose suspected fraudulent use of a senior’s assets.
  • Streamlining Rural Appraisals – Waives the certified appraisal requirement for mortgages in rural areas if the lender has contacted three state-licensed or state-certified appraisers who could not complete an appraisal within five days.

“This legislation addresses important consumer protection concerns, including identity theft and fraud, while also improving the appraisal process for homebuyers in rural areas,” Hoeven said. “At the same time, this bill provides important regulatory relief for our small community banks and credit unions. These institutions are vital to local economies and face a disproportionate burden under the Dodd-Frank regulations. This relief will help prevent the consolidation of local banks and ensure consumers have greater choice when seeking financial services.”


In addition to the Hoeven-supported measures, the legislation will help ensure consumers have the tools they need to protect themselves from fraud and preserve their credit scores. This includes allowing consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit report an unlimited number of times per year. The bill also prevents negative impacts to veterans’ credit reports for debt stemming from medical treatment under the Veterans Choice Program and provides relief for borrowers who faced a one-time default on their student loan debt.


The legislation also helps ensure consumers have access to greater choice in the financial services market by providing regulatory relief to small community banks and credit unions. This reflects the fact that smaller institutions do not pose significant risk to the nation’s economy. Accordingly, the bill eases reporting and examination requirements for community banks and credit unions. It also makes it easier for these institutions to originate residential mortgages for qualified borrowers and exempts them from complex rules that restrict their investments.

Currently, smaller institutions face disproportionate compliance costs under the Dodd-Frank legislation passed in 2010. As a result, many small community banks have been forced to close, merge and consolidate. The number of banks and credit unions in North Dakota has dropped from 90 to 74 and from 47 to 35 since Dodd-Frank’s passage, respectively. This creates more unserved and underserved communities and limits options for rural families and businesses as they try to buy homes, create new startups or expand their operations, which undermines the rural economy.