The Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions “DIFI” supervises and regulates financial institutions and enterprises in accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes Title 6, Title 32, Chapter 9, Articles 1, 2 and 3 & Chapter36, Articles 1-5, Title 44, Chapter 2.1, Article 1, and the Arizona Administrative Code Title 20 chapter 4. You can contact a Consumer Affairs Division Examiner to answer questions relating to these statutes by calling 602-771-2800 option#2 or by e-mail at: [email protected].
Below are frequently asked questions that DIFI has received from consumers. The questions are in alphabetical order by license type. To see a complete list of financial institution and enterprise license types that DIFI regulates, click on Licensee Lookup.
As of July 2015, DIFI also regulates Appraisal Management Companies, Appraisers and Property Tax Agents in accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes Title 32, Chapter 36. For questions relating to these statutes, you can contact the Appraisal Division by calling 602-771-2800 option #1. You can also file a complaint with the Appraisal Division. To see a complete list of appraisal license types, click here and then press the drop down of "directories".
Please note: These frequently asked questions are for your general information. DIFI is not authorized to give or offer legal advice. If you need help with a personal legal matter, you may want to consider contacting a private attorney.
Links and information on this page may be from another government agency and you may click to a link that leaves the DIFI website and enters that agency’s website which is created, operated, and maintained by that agency. Please contact that agency for further information or problems with the website.
Advance Fee Loan Brokers
Q: What is an advance fee loan broker?
A: An Advance Fee Loan Broker is a person, who for an advance fee or in the expectation of an advance fee, either directly or indirectly, makes, procures, offers, or attempts to make or procure a loan of money or extension of credit. Advance Fee Loan Brokers are regulated by DIFI under A.R.S. §§ 6-1301 – 1310. The statutes relating to Advance Fee Loan Brokers do not apply to certain exempted persons, including banks, savings banks, trust companies, savings and loan associations, credit unions, insurance companies, consumer lenders or profit sharing and pension trusts. For a complete list of persons that are excluded from the definition of “Advance Fee Loan Broker,” please refer to A.R.S. §§6-1302(B).
Q: Does DIFI regulate all banks doing business in the State of Arizona?
A: No, DIFI only regulates Arizona state chartered banks.
Q: What is the difference between a state and a national bank?
A: The main difference is whether the permit to do business as a bank was granted by the state government or the federal government. Whenever a new bank organization is started, the owners apply for either a state or national (federal) bank charter. Both types of banks offer FDIC insured deposits and both are regulated in much the same manner. The important difference for bank customers and other consumers is where they should go for regulatory assistance. Because Arizona state-chartered banks are the only banks supervised by the DIFI, concerns and complaints received about national banks or banks chartered in other states must be forwarded to the appropriate regulator. A list of state and federal agencies that govern banks located in Arizona but not chartered as an Arizona state-chartered bank is included in the Arizona_Trade_Association_Contact_List and Other Regulator Referral List.
Q: Can a bank chartered in another state do business in the State of Arizona? If so, who is their regulator?
A: Yes. The regulator is located in the state that issues the banking permit. You will notice more out-of-state, state regulated banks in Arizona due to the passing of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law on July 21, 2010. For a list of out-of- state, state chartered banks doing business in Arizona and more information on banks, please refer to the Other Regulator Referral List.
Q: How can I get my money changed from U.S. dollars to another country’s currency?
A: Call your local bank and ask them about currency exchange. You may be charged fees for exchanging your currency.
A resource for information on the current exchange rates can be found at the Treasury Department’s Rates of Exchange. The bureau of the Fiscal Service of the United States Department of the Treasury, provides current and historical exchange rate information.
Q: How can I determine if my bank is insured and my deposits are covered?
A: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has two tools you can use to check on these issues. Using Bank Find, you can determine if your bank is insured, who the primary regulator is, where you can go if you have a complaint, or what the history of your bank has been. You can then use FDIC’s online calculator – EDIE the Estimator– to determine if your accounts are insured.
Q: My bank has failed and I want to know if my accounts are insured!
A: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has an easy to use tool – Is My Account Fully Insured? that you can use the first business day after the bank closing. Just select your bank and enter your account number to get the result. You will receive additional information depending on the status of your accounts.
Q: How can I find the regulator, reports and data about individual banks?
A: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides detailed information on an institution-level basis in their Institution Directory. This includes comprehensive financial and demographic data for every FDIC-insured institution, including the most recent quarterly financial statements, with performance and condition ratios. Call Reports, which include reports from 2001 to the present for individual banks and savings associations are available for viewing and downloading. Taxonomies for bank Call Reports are also available.
Q: Does DIFI enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”)?
A: No, DIFI regulates collection agencies in accordance with the Arizona Revised Statutes and the Arizona Administrative Code, which in some instances afford consumers greater protection than the FDCPA. The FDCPA is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.
Q: What is the statute of limitations for a collection agency to call me for an outstanding debt?
A: The statute of limitations for unpaid debt varies depending on the kind of debt. You should consult a private attorney for information on your debt. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged with enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which similarly to Arizona law, prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you.
Q: The collection agency assigned to my debt is refusing to accept monthly payments, can they do that?
A: Yes. There are no statutes or rules that require a collection agency to accept payments.
Q: I have asked the collection agency to stop calling me and they are still calling me. What can I do?
A: To ensure that the collection agency’s calls stop, you must give the collection agency written notice stating that you refuse to pay the debt, or requesting that the collection agency stop all further communication (a cease and desist letter). In your cease and desist letter, it is helpful if you provide the telephone number for a collection agency to remove from their database. Send your request via e-mail, facsimile, and certified mail so that you can maintain a record of receipt. Further, a collection agency is required to investigate any claim that the debtor has been misidentified, the debt has been paid, the debt has been discharged in bankruptcy or any other reasonable claim that the debt is not owed. A collection may not continue its collection efforts until its investigation is completed (i.e., the evidence of debt is obtained and the validity of debt and contact information for the debtor are verified). You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged with enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which similarly to Arizona law, prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you.
Q: I have sent a cease and desist letter and the collection agency is still calling me. What else can I do?
A: File a complaint with DIFI and also check your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act FDCPA.
Q: Are credit repair companies regulated?
A: The Federal Trade Commission regulates credit bureaus and credit repair organizations. Also, you can submit a complaint to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office if you feel you have been a victim of deceptive practices from a credit repair company.
Q: Does DIFI regulate all credit unions doing business in the State of Arizona?
A: No, DIFI only regulates Arizona state-chartered credit unions.
Q: What is the difference between a state credit union and a federal credit union?
A: The main difference is whether the permit to do business as a credit union was granted by the state government or the federal government. Whenever a new credit union is established, the organizers apply for either a state or national (federal) credit union charter. Both types of credit unions offer NCUA insured deposits and both are regulated in much the same manner. The important difference for credit union members and other consumers is where they should go for regulatory assistance. Because Arizona state-chartered credit unions are the only credit unions supervised by DIFI , concerns and complaints received about federal credit unions or out-of-state chartered credit unions must be forwarded to the appropriate regulator. A list of all credit unions chartered as Arizona state chartered credit unions can be found at Look up a Licensee on DIFI ’s website. A list of state and federal agencies that govern credit unions located in Arizona but not chartered as an Arizona state chartered credit union is included in the Other Regulator Referral List.
Q: Can a credit union chartered in another state do business in the State of Arizona? If so, who is their regulator?
A: Yes, the regulator is located in the state that issues their permit. To see a list of out-of-state state chartered credit unions and more information about who regulates credit unions see the Other Regulator Referral List.
Q: Are my accounts fully insured at a credit union?
A: Credit unions cannot do business in Arizona unless their accounts are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Accounts are insured up to $250,000. All of the Arizona state chartered credit unions regulated by DIFI and listed on this website at Look up a licensee are federally insured. You can access the NCUA’s website under find a credit union to determine if your credit union is regulated and insured.
Debt Management Companies
Q: What is the difference between debt negotiations, consolidations or other debt settlement companies and debt management companies?
A: Companies engaged in debt negotiations, debt arbitration, debt settlement or credit settlement do not receive money or evidence thereof from consumers for purposes of managing their debt. These companies simply negotiate with creditors in an attempt to have creditors agree to accept a reduced balance from debtors as payment in full satisfaction of their debts.
A Debt Management company is a person that for compensation engages in the business of receiving money, or evidences thereof, in this state or from a resident of this state as agent of a debtor for the purpose of distributing the same to his creditors in payment or partial payment of his obligations. A Debt Management Company provides many services that may include debt settlement negotiations, including lowering of interest rate or the principal amount. Unlike debt settlement companies, debt management companies also assist consumers with saving money and/or managing money. One example of debt management is when a consumer pays the company a monthly payment and the company distributes the payment among the consumer’s creditors. DIFI regulates debt management companies under A.R.S. §§ 6-701 through 6-716.
Q: I have a dispute with another party to a contract; can the escrow company keep my earnest money deposit?
A: You need to review the contract terms addressing dispute resolution. If there is a dispute, the escrow company may be required to hold funds until the matter is arbitrated or there is an order entered by a court of law
Q: How can I tell if a loan originator is licensed in Arizona?
A: You can check DIFI's website under Look up a Licensee or you can check the National Mortgage Licensing System and Registry (NMLS ) by clicking on their consumer access page.
Q: What does money transmitter mean?
A: A Money Transmitter is a money services business that performs a number of services. A Money Transmitter may sell or issue payment instruments (e.g., checks, drafts, money orders, traveler’s checks whether or not the instrument is negotiable). A Money Transmitter could also be a money services business that engages in the business of receiving money for transmission or transmitting money by any and all means, including but not limited to payment instrument, wire, facsimile or electronic transfer. Using a Money Transmitter, customers may send and receive money within the United States or to locations abroad. A customer can send money by visiting any participating outlet, filling out a money transfer form and paying for the transaction. The customer receiving the transaction does not usually have to pay a fee. DIFI regulates Money Transmitters under A.R.S. Title 6, Chapter 12, Article 1 and 2. §§6-1201-6-1242.
Mortgage Brokers and Bankers
Q: Can I change my mind if I have already signed a contract to refinance my loan?
A: Under the Federal Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1635 and Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. 226.15, borrowers who refinance a loan on their primary residence with a lender other than their current lender can cancel the deal at no cost to themselves within 3 days of closing. This "right of rescission" is designed to give borrowers an opportunity to think it over and, if they decide the deal is not really in their best interest, to back out and retrieve any monies they have paid out. DIFI enforces this right though the mortgage broker and banker statutes Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 6-906(D) and 6-946(E).
Q: What is PMI? (Private Mortgage Insurance)
A: A policy provided by private mortgage insurers to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults. Most lenders require PMI for loans with loan-to-value (LTV) percentages in excess of 80%. This allows the borrower to make a smaller down payment of as low as 3%, instead of about 20%, and usually requires an initial premium payment and possibly an additional monthly fee depending on the loan's structure.
Q: How and when can I request the removal of my PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)?
A: The removal of PMI is based on your loan investor’s conditions that are subject to change. Early removal of PMI may be subject to certain conditions that you must meet; such as payment history, time frame of your loan, value, etc. In order to determine if you meet the requirements of early termination of you PMI, contact you loan servicer/lender to discuss the guideline of removing your PMI.
Q: What is MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium)?
A: MIP is mortgage insurance required for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured loans. When closing on a home using an FHA loan, all debtors are subjected to an upfront charge of the MIP in a percentage amount of the sales price of the home. An additional insurance premium is calculated into the monthly payment on an FHA loan and is calculated based on a percentage amount of the annual premium charged at closing. This monthly fee is held in an escrow account with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the debtor’s name. For more information on MIP requirements, you can visit the HUD website. You may also check their website under “does HUD owe you a refund” to see if you may be eligible for a refund on your MIP if you had an FHA-insured mortgage.
Q: What is a TIL (Truth in Lending) statement?
A: A Truth in Lending (TIL) statement can help you decide if a loan is right for you. But making sense of the document is not easy. A TIL disclosure statement is one of the more important documents in the mortgage process. It is designed to help borrowers understand their borrowing costs in their entirety. Federal law requires that lenders provide a (TIL) document to all loan applicants within three business days of receiving a loan application, disclosing all costs associated with making and closing the loan. Some of the things you will find on a TIL are the annual percentage rate (APR), the finance charge, the amount financed, the total of payments, payment schedule and other disclosures.
Q: Does DIFI regulate loan modifications for property outside the state of Arizona?
A: DIFI regulates loans secured by a mortgage or deed of trust or any lien interest on real estate located in Arizona. DIFI suggests that if you have a complaint regarding a loan modification on a property not located in Arizona to contact the regulatory agency in the state where the property is located.
Sales Finance Companies
Q: I have buyer’s remorse; can I cancel my motor vehicle contract within three days?
A: Unless there is a three-day right of rescission written expressly into the contract, there is no three-day right of rescission or “cooling-off” period under Arizona law. For more information on your rights pertaining to car purchases, please refer to Arizona Attorney General’s website at https://www.azag.gov/consumer/auto.
Q: The dealer said I have to sign a second contract; do I really have to sign it if I do not want to?
A: No, if you choose NOT to sign a second contract, you will need to follow the terms of the first contract in returning the vehicle you purchased and assume any obligations you agreed to in returning the vehicle, for instance, non-refundable deposit, any and all mileage, damage to the vehicle, etc.
Q: I traded in a vehicle, and I did not qualify for financing, does the dealer have to return my trade-in vehicle, even if they sold it?
Q: The used vehicle I purchased is not running right even though I bought it “As Is”. Where can I complain?
A: For performance issues, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office may be of assistance. Please call 602-542-5763, 520-628-6504, or visit www.azag.gov for an on-line complaint form.
Q: Does DIFI know who my lien holder is?
A: No, DIFI does not maintain customer information, such as contracts, records, payment histories, etc.
Q: Can DIFI give me a lien release on my vehicle if the company is out of business or I cannot find them?
A: No, if you call 602-771-2800, DIFI can check their database for you to see if your lender/lien holder may have changed their name, merged with another company or have since gone out-of-business. DIFI may be able to give you updated contact information to call the company for a lien release. If the debt was paid off over seven years ago, the company may not have the records, or if the company is out-of-business or cannot be located for a lien release, please contact the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division Title and Registration Section for instructions and requirements for obtaining a bonded title.
Q: What is the maximum interest rate for auto title loans?
A: In accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes §44-291, a retail installment contract that is a secondary motor vehicle finance transaction is subject to the following maximum finance rates on a secondary motor vehicle finance contract in the original principal amount of:
Five hundred dollars or less, a monthly finance rate of seventeen percent.
More than five hundred dollars but not more than two thousand five hundred dollars, a monthly finance rate of fifteen percent.
More than two thousand five hundred dollars but not more than five thousand dollars, a monthly finance rate of thirteen percent.
More than five thousand dollars, a monthly finance rate of ten percent.
Q: How would I calculate my annual percentage rate (APR) for my auto title loan?
A: You would calculate the annual secondary motor vehicle finance rate by multiplying the monthly secondary motor vehicle finance rate by twelve. For example, if you borrowed more then $500, your monthly finance rate would be 17% and your APR would be 204% (17% times 12).
Q: Are there any savings and loan associations in Arizona?
A: At this time, there are no associations in Arizona that have applied for and have been issued a permit to transact business as a state-chartered Savings and Loan Association.
Q: How can I get my credit report?
A: By law, you can get a free credit report annually from each credit reporting agency, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This free credit report is offered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at annualcreditreport.com. If you do not have a computer, you can also get your free report by calling the FTC at 1-877-322-8228 or filling out the Annual Credit Report Form and mailing it to the address as instructed on the FTC’s website.
Do not get the FTC’s offer confused with offers you see on TV ads, e-mail offers or Internet searches as these ads could end up charging you hidden fees, annual membership fees, or sell you other services that may be difficult to get out of. You can file a complaint with the FTC if you paid for what you thought was your free annual credit report.
Q: How do I dispute a debt that is not mine on my credit report?
A: Tell the credit reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies, not originals of documents that support your position. Clearly identify each item in your report that you dispute. You can do this on each company’s website at Experian.com, Transunion.com and Equifax.com. For more detailed information and an example letter for disputing credit report errors, see the Federal Trade Commission’s FTC Facts for Consumers.
Q: Where do I go to complain about my credit card company?
A: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was established in January of 2012 to enforce the Credit CARD Act put into effect February 22, 2010. For your convenience see this link to the CFPB complaint form.
DIFI accepts a credit card complaint if the company that issued the credit card is one of DIFI'Slicensees. You can access the list of DIFI 'S licensees under Look up a Licensee.
Q: What happened to the payday lender that DIFI used to license?
A: The law allowing payday loans in Arizona expired on June 30, 2010. DIFI no longer licenses payday lenders. Consumer Loans with annual interest rates over 36% (plus authorized fees) became illegal on July 1, 2010. If you see a sign advertising payday loans, please contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office at (866)-879-5219 or [email protected]. Please visit the Arizona Attorney General’s website for Payday Loans Frequently Asked Questions for more information about payday loans in Arizona.
Q: What happened to the Motor Vehicle Dealers that DIFI used to license?
A: The law requiring DIFI to regulate Motor Vehicle Dealers expired on August 6, 2016. You may refer to SB1358 and HB2535. If you have a complaint or inquiry about a Motor Vehicle Dealer, please visit ADOT’s website at https://azdot.gov/mvd/ContactMVD.