Top Story: OCC Assesses Penalty Against Bank of America, N.A. and FIA Card Services, N.A.; Orders Restitution for Unfair Billing Practices
By Chrisalyn Santos
On April 9, the OCC assessed a $25 million penalty against Bank of America, N.A., Charlotte, N.C., and its credit card subsidiary, and ordered restitution of approximately $459.5 million to 1.9 million consumer accounts that were unfairly billed for identity theft protection products.
The OCC found that the billing practices of the bank and its subsidiary, FIA Card Services, N.A. of Wilmington, Del., violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a)(1), which prohibits unfair and deceptive acts or practices. The $25 million civil money will be paid to the U.S. Treasury.
Consumers who were unfairly billed for identity theft protection products marketed and sold by the bank and its vendors are eligible for the restitution ordered by the OCC. Specifically, the restitution will benefit consumers who enrolled in and paid for such products between October 2000 and September 2011 but did not receive the full benefit of the products. The restitution will include the full amount paid for these products, plus any associated over-limit fees and finance charges.
The OCC order also requires the bank and its subsidiary to improve oversight of third-party vendors associated with “add-on” consumer products and submit a risk management program for marketing and selling such products.
The OCC coordinated its action with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which also issued a separate order on April 9 against the bank based, in part, on unfair billing for identify theft protection products. The CFPB ordered the bank to pay a $20 million civil money penalty and ordered restitution to harmed consumers. Restitution payments made in compliance with the OCC’s order will also satisfy identical obligations required by the CFPB action.
Last Updated: 10/21/2014