News Release 2008-143 | December 11, 2008
OCC, Wachovia Enter Revised Agreement to Reimburse Consumers Directly
WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has entered into an amended settlement agreement with Wachovia Bank, National Association directing the bank to issue checks to consumers that may have been harmed by payment processors for telemarketers that had account relationships with Wachovia.
As a result of the OCC's action, the bank will issue checks totaling over $150 million to more than 740,000 consumers. Checks will be mailed today.
This revised reimbursement process assures that consumers who have not already received restitution will now receive reimbursement checks. The payment processors and telemarketers involved were Payment Processing Center, LLC, FTN Promotions, Inc. dba Suntasia, Inc., Netchex Corp., and Your Money Access LLC, and related companies.
The practices cited by the OCC in the settlement involved the use of remotely created checks, or RCCs, by payment processors for telemarketers that maintained account relationships with the bank. An RCC is a check that is not created by the accountholder and does not bear the accountholder's signature. Instead, the signature block of the check includes text such as "authorized by your depositor, no signature required."
The telemarketers obtained bank account information over the phone by offering consumers a range of questionable products and services. With the account information obtained during the call, the telemarketer would direct the payment processor to create a remotely created check. The payment processor would then deposit the remotely created check into the processor's account at Wachovia, and funds were then withdrawn from consumers' accounts to make payment on the check and deposited into the processor's account. A large percentage of these RCCs were returned to Wachovia by individuals, or their financial institutions, who said the checks were never authorized or that they had never received the products or services offered by the telemarketers.
The checks from Wachovia are being mailed to consumers by the United States Court Settlement Administrator. They are legitimate and should be cashed or deposited. As a result of the bank's settlement of a related class action lawsuit, the mailing also contains a process for consumers to request further reimbursement if customers believe they have been charged for bank fees that would not have been charged had the transactions in question not occurred.
The OCC acknowledges the cooperation and assistance it received on this matter from the United States Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Trade Commission.
Additional information is available to consumers by telephone at 1-866-680-6659 (toll free) or online at: http://www.restitutionpayment.com.
Kevin M. Mukri