The world’s largest credit card lender has been ordered by a U.S. government watchdog agency to repay $700 million to its customers, plus $70 million in fines, due to illegal practices.
Specifically, the bank marketed numerous add-on products for its credit cards in which it promised to offer credit monitoring, defer payments or forgive debts under certain circumstances such as job loss or financial hardship. The services were offered under such names as “Credit Protector,” “Payment Safeguard” and “AccountCare.”
Benefit of these programs were greatly overstated. Beyond that, the bank allegedly misrepresented fees, in some cases indicating the services were free or free for a period of time, when in fact, they were not.
In the case of “credit monitoring services,” there was no one monitoring changes made at the everyday transaction level, even though that’s what people believed they were paying for. Sales and marketing firms employed “leading questions” and also took ambiguous answers from consumers to mean confirmation they wanted the services.