Question: We are going paperless, but we are unsure about retaining documents under the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA), since we know that regulatory enforcement requirements may cause us to hold on to evidence. That goes along with our concerns about retaining paper copies, too. You may have answered a question like this one before, but we are still unsure of what evidence we need to retain to show compliance. So, we want to know what is the timeline for retaining documents beyond the required time required in case of regulatory enforcement against us? Also, must we keep paper copies as evidence of compliance?
You have asked a complicated question about regulatory enforcement parameters, with respect to record retention. Because you have framed your question in the context of TILA, this response will be narrowed to Regulation Z, the implementing regulation of TILA.
Except with respect to advertising, creditors must retain evidence of compliance with Regulation Z for a period of two years after the date the disclosures are required to be made or action is required to be taken. Enforcement of TILA, however, may require the creditor to retain records for longer periods necessary to carry out enforcement responsibilities and administrative actions.
In effect, this means that administrative agencies responsible for enforcing a subject regulation may require creditors under their jurisdictions to retain records for a longer period, if necessary to perform their enforcement responsibilities. [12 CFR § 226.25(a)]
As to paper retention, in terms of adequate evidence of compliance, actual paper copies of disclosures or other business records are not absolutely necessary to be retained. Evidence may be retained on microfilm, microfiche, computer programs, or by any other method that reproduces records accurately.
As a matter of fact, the creditor needs to retain only enough information to reconstruct the required disclosures or other records. By way of example, the creditor does not need to retain each open-end, periodic statement for purposes of complying with record retention of a home-equity plan's periodic statement, as long as the specific information on each statement can be retrieved. In other words, written procedures for compliance with the disclosure requirements and a sample periodic statement represent adequate evidence of compliance. [12 CFR Supplement I to 226, Official Staff Interpretations, § 226.25(a)-2]
Jonathan Foxx is Managing Director of Lenders Compliance Group, the first and only full-service, mortgage risk management firm in the United States, specializing exclusively in outsourced mortgage compliance and offering a suite of services in residential mortgage banking for banks and non-banks. If you would like to contact him, please e-mail [email protected].