If you’ve used the MLA Database to perform a covered borrower check in the last few days, you may have noticed something strange. The website’s security certificate has expired, and you get a message similar to “Secure Connection Failed” or “Can’t connect securely to this page” and you are unable to access the MLA Database. So, what are you to do?
The first thing you need to do is to not panic. Your computer has not been attacked by a virus or malware. Well, I don’t know that your computer is free of viruses or malware; only your IT department can tell you that for sure. But this message is not a virus or malware attack. While a message like this could be something related to the time/date on your computer or the CMOS battery, this time it is the site itself with the issue. So, take a deep breath, your computer is fine (probably).
Now, you must figure out what to do about the covered borrower check. First, the easiest solution, if you have access to multiple web browsers, you can try a different browser. Yesterday morning, I was not able to access the site with Firefox, Edge, or Explorer but could access it with Chrome (I did not try other browsers; others may work). By 4:00 pm Eastern, I was able to access the database with Edge and Explorer, and it seemed as if only Firefox was affected. As of 9:00 am Eastern this morning, I was still not able to access it with Firefox. If you can use an alternate browser (maybe sweet talk your Information Security Officer), this would be the easiest solution. If you cannot use an alternate browser, you have a few other options.
Depending on which Consumer Reporting Agency you use for credit checks and the agreement you have with them, you may be able to perform a covered borrower check using the consumer report. In addition to the MLA Database, you can pull a consumer report from a Nationwide CRA that contains a code to indicate whether the consumer is a covered borrower. If this consumer report indicates that the consumer is not a covered borrower and you retain a copy of that report in your records, the loan is not subject to the MLA and you have a safe harbor. If you cannot obtain such a report, you still have options.
You are never required to conduct a covered borrower check. A covered borrower provides you with a safe harbor, but it is not required by the MLA. You do not violate the MLA if you provide the MLA disclosures, the MAPR does not exceed 36%, and your loan does not include any other prohibited item. Your policy and procedures may require a covered borrower check and it may be an exception to policy to make a loan without conducting a covered borrower check. In that case, you will want to document the exception and why no check was performed. If you cannot treat the loan as being subject to the MLA, for example if the MAPR exceeds 36% or your note has prohibited language, your options now depend on what stage in the process you are.
If you perform the check “at application,” you may be able to wait a couple of days and check again. “At application” includes the time it takes to process the application. You may delay processing the application for a couple of days until you are able to access the database. Even if you do not delay processing the application, you may conduct the covered borrower check at any time in the 30-day period prior to closing. If you perform the covered borrower check before closing, depending on when the closing is, you may have to delay closing.
The one thing you cannot do is go ahead and close the loan without providing the MLA disclosure and/or with a MAPR that exceeds 36% or any other prohibited feature, then check the database after closing, and modify the agreement into compliance it the consumer happens to be a covered borrower. The MLA prohibits you from performing a historic lookback. The MLA database is real-time, and you can only check to see if a consumer IS a covered borrower; you cannot use the database to see if the consumer WAS a covered borrower in the past (even one day).
Long story short, even though you may not be able to access the MLA Database, you are not completely out of luck.