As someone who teaches continuing education for Mortgage Loan Officers, RESPA is always a hot topic of the group. In one of my classes as I explained what a Section 8 RESPA violation was, it dawned on me... are networking groups like BNI, Le Tip, etc a RESPA violation because we actually pay a fee with the sole purpose of a referral? And in some cases like BNI and I'm sure other networking groups, where they only allow one person per profession per chapter/group? Accepting or receiving anything of value whether monetary or in the form of service is a direct violation of RESPA. Basically all we can do is to send a thank you card. There is no minimum dollar amount that is acceptable. But in the case of the networking group, we are paying a fee in exchange for a referral and some of those members in the group fall under respa rules.
While some may think this is a joke, a violation of RESPA is very serious and affects both parties involved, the giver and the receiver. Penalties in a criminal case could be fines up to $10,000, one year in prison or both and in a civil law suit a violater may be liable up to 3 times the amount the person was charged for the service. So it's something very serious to consider.
I have passed this question on to my compliance department and will post the answer once I get it. But in the interim, I'm curious as to your opinion? What do you think?