California AG Settles with National Bank over Alleged Abusive Debt Collection Practices

Enforcement_CA1On November 2, 2015, the California Attorney General’s Office announced that it had entered into a $100 million stipulated judgment with a national bank over allegations that the bank engaged in abusive debt collection practices, in violation of California’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The allegations relate to the bank’s debt collection practices for defaulted consumer credit card accounts.  According to the complaint, the bank’s practices included robo-signing affidavits and other required court documents in over 100,000 debt collection lawsuits. The bank also allegedly made repeated calculation errors regarding the amounts debtors owed, and therefore reported inaccurate debt amounts to the courts. The bank also allegedly sold inaccurate accounts – including accounts that had been paid in full, settled or discharged in bankruptcy – to third-party debt collectors. Finally, the California AG’s office alleged the bank improperly attempted to collect debts from active-duty servicemembers, in violation of the federal Civil Servicemembers Relief Act and California’s Military and Veterans Code. Under the stipulated judgment, the bank will pay $50 million in restitution to affected consumers and $50 million in civil penalties. The Bank has also agreed to institute a variety of programs designed to prevent violations of debt collection laws. The Bank did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the stipulated judgment.