In a deal with U.S. regulators, Bank of America has agreed to compensate clients more than $700 million (US dollars) over deceptive sales of credit card “add-on” products.
The bank announced that it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that will see it pay $45 million in fines and refund approximately $738 million to affected customers. The deal resolves issues related to the marketing and sale of credit card debt cancellation products, and the billing of identity theft protection products, the bank said.
The OCC is fining the firm $25 million, noting that it found that the bank’s billing practices violated prohibitions on unfair and deceptive acts or practices. “The $25 million civil money penalty reflects a number of factors, including the scope and duration of the violation and financial harm to consumers from the unfair practices,” it said.
The restitution ordered by the OCC will include the full amount paid for identity theft protection products between October 2000 and September 2011 to customers who did not receive the full benefit of the products (plus any associated over-limit fees and finance charges). The OCC order also requires the bank to improve governance of third-party vendors associated with “add-on” consumer products and to submit a risk management program for “add-on” consumer products marketed or sold by the bank or its vendors.
“Today we’re fining Bank of America, N.A. and FIA Card Services, N.A. for unfairly billing consumers for services relating to identity theft protection “add-on” products and for using deceptive marketing and sales practices for credit protection “add-on” products,” said the CFPB, which levied $20 million of the fine.
Bank of America says that it stopped marketing identity theft protection products in December 2011 and credit card debt cancellation products in August 2012; and, it reports that it has already issued refund payments to the majority of affected customers.