American Express (AmEx) will settle to resolve charges against them for overbilling and misleading customers on services offered by their corporation.
The $75.7 million settlement is broken down to $16.2 million in fines and $59.5 to customers for compensation.
An estimated 335,000 customers are being remediated in this action involving the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
Under the guise of “identity protection” with the Blue Sky credit card, AmEx took money from customers without expressed permission from the customer.
Customers were also lied to about the benefits of the “account protector” program (APP) that was sold as an insurance plan against unemployment and temporary disability.
It was accessed that 85% of AmEx customers were illegally charged for services they never received.
This includes interest charges on fees for those uncompensated services.
In some instances this scheme caused customers to have credit limits implemented which resulted in more fees being accrued.
The charges settled by AmEx include:
• Leading customers “believe they would receive $300 in addition to bonus points if they signed up for this American Express Centurion Bank (AECB) program
• Late charges and “fees on certain cards based on a percentage of the debt [was] in violation of the Credit CARD Act ”
• The AECB “used a credit scoring system that treated charge card applicants differently on the basis of age”
• Customers over the age of 35 were not “fully implemented” into the system
• AECB “failed to report the existence of certain customer disputes to credit bureaus”
• AmEx and “all [three] subsidiaries deceived consumers into believing there were certain benefits to paying off old debt”
• AmEx wrongfully told certain “consumers that a portion of their debt would be waived or forgiven if they accepted certain settlement offers” without actually waiving the debt
Richard Cordray, director of the CFPD explained: “Everyone should be on notice of this issue. Today we are refunding thousands of American Express customers who were harmed by these illegal practices.”
Marina Norville, spokesperson for AmEx stated : “The subsidiaries have discontinued the programs involved in the violations, which she said company officials self-corrected while negotiating the settlements. Most customers affected have already received refunds. We want the same thing the regulators want: To be completely honest, fair and transparent with our customers.”