False and misleading information related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) are a significant challenge. After the initial outbreak of COVID-19, disinformation campaigns appeared online. Information manipulation and fabrication about COVID-19’s origin, scale, government response, and/or prevention and treatment surged as creators leveraged people’s increased uncertainty. Check out information from CISA on how to protect yourself. Also check out the recent news from the FTC on scams.
Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak warned Vermont’s small business community to be cautious of scammers targeting the Paycheck Protection Program established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been popular in Vermont and operates through lenders approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). To date, approximately 6,800 Vermont businesses have secured loans totaling over $1 billion.
The Summary of National Foreclosure Freezes and Forbearance Programs covers consumer assistance for a range of loan types and national-level holds on foreclosures and evictions. This information is also included on the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) COVID-19 webpage: www.csbs.org/information-covid-19-coronavirus.
On March 24, 2020, the Governor issued Addendum 6 to Executive Order 01-20 [Stay Home/Stay Safe] directing Vermonters to stay at home or in their place of residence, leaving only for essential reasons. Addendum 6 recognizes that businesses that provide critical economic security, such as Vermont financial institutions, may continue to operate on a limited basis. Please review the Guidance on Financial Institution Operations.
The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, along with other state regulators, the FDIC (see March 9, 2020 press release), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (see OCC Bulletin 2020-15), and others, recognizes the potential for the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) to adversely affect the customers and operations of financial institutions. The Department encourages financial institutions to take steps to meet the financial services needs of affected customers and communities. The Department will provide appropriate regulatory assistance to affected financial institutions subject to their supervision, as warranted.
March 13, 2020
On March 11, 2020 COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization and there has been intense concern regarding the spread of the COVID-19. This Memorandum sets forth the department’s position regarding Vermont licensed mortgage loan originators who temporarily work from home or a company designated location during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DFR recognizes that many organizations have company-wide travel restrictions already in place. We hope that such restrictions will be lifted soon, but are aware that larger board meetings take months of planning and require that arrangements be made well in advance of the meeting date, and many board members have packed calendars of their own. It may not be possible to reschedule some meetings that were planned for this Spring and Summer. If circumstances dictate that you are unable to hold a board meeting in Vermont in 2020, just send a letter to DFR.CaptiveMail@vermont.gov to request a waiver.
Due to circumstances that a Vermont state-registered investment advisor may be experiencing related to the current or potential effects of COVID-19, the Department of Financial Regulation has extended the deadline for firms to file their annual Form ADV amendment to April 30, 2020. Please do not hesitate to contact the Securities Division if you have any questions.”
In light of the ongoing developments related to the current COVID-19 outbreak, and its impact on financial markets, the Department of Financial Regulation is reminding investors in Vermont to have patience and use caution.