Chase Bank to Pay $136 Million in Nationwide Settlement Over Unlawful Credit Card Debt Collection Practices
Agreement Prevents Collections on More Than 528,000 Consumer Accounts and Prohibits Buyers from Reselling Unpaid Credit Card Debt; Massachusetts to Receive $2.8 Million
BOSTON – Chase Bank USA, N.A. and Chase Bankcard Services, Inc. will pay $136 million and significantly reform its credit card debt collection practices through a joint state-federal settlement, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. Massachusetts will receive more than $2.8 million from the agreement.
“Chase’s unlawful debt collection practices harmed credit card holders in Massachusetts and across the country,” AG Healey said. “This agreement holds Chase accountable for its past practices and provides immediate debt relief for consumers. It also puts needed reforms in place to ensure that information gathered to collect unpaid debt is fair, accurate, and verified.”
The joint state-federal investigation uncovered various unlawful debt collection practices by Chase, including:
- Attempting to collect debts from and seeking judgments against consumers for accounts that did not belong to the consumers;
- Selling certain accounts to debt buyers that contained inaccurate information or concerned debts that were settled, discharged in bankruptcy, not actually owed by the consumer, or otherwise uncollectable;
- Using false and deceptive affidavits that were prepared without following required procedures, a practice referred to as “robo-signing;”
- Making calculation errors when filing debt collection lawsuits that sometimes resulted in judgments against consumers for incorrect amounts; and
- Because of the unlawful debt collection practices mentioned above, reporting inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies about consumers that may have affected their ability to obtain credit, employment, housing, and insurance in the future.
Following an investigation by the AG’s Office, along with attorneys general from 47 states plus the District of Columbia, Chase entered into an assurance of discontinuance filed with the Suffolk Superior Court today. As part of the nationwide resolution, Chase also entered into a separate order with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The agreement requires Chase to cease all collection efforts on more than 528,000 consumers, including an estimated 9,000 in Massachusetts. Chase will notify affected borrowers of the required changes and will request all three major credit reporting agencies to not report any judgments obtained relating to these accounts.
Chase has also agreed to implement new safeguards to help ensure debt information is accurate and inaccurate data is corrected, to provide additional information to consumers who owe debts, and to prohibit Chase’s debt buyers from reselling consumer debts to other purchasers. Previously, initial buyers of Chase’s consumer credit card debt could resell the debt, the subsequent buyers could flip the debt to another buyer and the process could repeat itself many times over, even if the information was incorrect, resulting in harm to the consumer.
Chase will pay $106 million to the 47 participating states and the District of Columbia, and $30 million to the CFPB. Today’s agreement also ensures that Chase will fulfill its obligation to provide $50 million in consumer restitution by July 1, 2016, as provided under a separate 2013 agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Chase estimates that so far it has provided $325,000 in restitution to 275 Massachusetts consumers through the separate settlement.
Debt collectors are bound by state and federal laws, which prohibit the use of unfair or deceptive practices to collect from consumers. Consumers with questions or concerns can call (617) 727-8400 or visit the AG’s website for more information.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Aaron Lamb and Tim Hoitink and Division Chief Glenn Kaplan of Attorney General Healey’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.