Bank of America ordered to refund NJ customers — How to get yours
💲 Bank of America ordered to pay $100 in refunds to customers
💲 BoA cited for charging illegal 'junk fees'
💲 How do you get your money?
After action from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, individual Bank of America customers in New Jersey may be entitled to a refund of hundreds of dollars in refunds.
The CFPB took action against BoA for "Illegally Charging Junk Fees, Withholding Credit Card Rewards, and Opening Fake Accounts" without customer consent.
Penalties include a $150 million fine to the CFPB and more than $100 million in consumer refunds.
Part of the fines and penalties come because Bank of America had a policy of charging customers $35 after the bank declined a transaction because the customer did not have enough funds in their account, the CFPB said. The agency determined that the bank double-dipped by allowing fees to be repeatedly charged for the same transaction.
The fees often came when customers had routine monthly transactions, like a gym membership. If a customer had too low of a balance to cover the transaction, it would be declined and BoA would charge the customer a $35 fee. The business often would recharge the customer's account, resulting in another $35 non-sufficient funds fee.
The bank ended this practice last year, but will still have to repay customers who got charged before the policy was changed.
Specifically, the CFPB cited Bank of America for harming hundreds of thousands of customers in the following ways:
🔺 Deployed a double-dipping scheme to harvest junk fees: Bank of America had a policy of charging customers $35 after the bank declined a transaction because the customer did not have enough funds in their account. The CFPB’s investigation found that Bank of America double-dipped by allowing fees to be repeatedly charged for the same transaction. Over a period of multiple years, Bank of America generated substantial additional revenue by illegally charging multiple $35 fees.
🔺 Withheld cash and points rewards on credit cards: To compete with other credit card companies, Bank of America targeted individuals with special offers of cash and points when signing up for a credit card. Bank of America illegally withheld promised credit card account bonuses, such as cash rewards or bonus points, to tens of thousands of consumers. The bank failed to honor rewards promises for consumers who submitted in-person or over-the-phone applications. The bank also denied sign-up bonuses to consumers due to the failure of Bank of America’s business processes and systems.
🔺 Misused Sensitive Customer Information to Open Unauthorized Accounts: From at least 2012, in order to reach now disbanded sales-based incentive goals and evaluation criteria, Bank of America employees illegally applied for and enrolled consumers in credit card accounts without consumers’ knowledge or authorization. In those cases, Bank of America illegally used or obtained consumers’ credit reports, without their permission, to complete applications. Because of Bank of America’s actions, consumers were charged unjustified fees, suffered negative effects to their credit profiles, and had to spend time correcting errors.
How much are the refunds?
It will likely vary per bank customer.
BoA has already refunded about $23 million to customers. The CFPB has ordered the bank to pay an additional $80.4 million to those not already refunded for "unlawful non-sufficient funds fees."
The bank must also compensate consumers who incurred costs stemming from the unauthorized opening of new credit card accounts, and any customers improperly denied bonuses.
These refunds will come directly from BoA, which has not yet said when or how they will be paid.
Can I make a claim?
Bank of America will also pay a $60 million penalty to the CFPB. That money will be deposited into the CFPB’s victims relief fund.
The CFPB has not yet announced whether they will open a separate claim for victims of BoA's illegal practices.
This LINK will take you to the CFPB website and a list of all open claims. If and when CFPB opens a separate claim for BoA customers, the claim forms and procedure will be listed here.
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