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If you signed up for the American Express “Blue Sky” credit card within the last 9 years, you could be cashing in a refund check by springtime. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ordered the credit giant to pay out $85 million to 250,000 customers for deceptive practices it claims occurred “at every stage of the consumer experience.”
Unlike the massive, multi-lender mortgage settlement announced earlier this year, the AmEx refund process will be much simpler: All you have to do is wait.
Existing AmEx customers will see a credit in their account, and those who’ve moved on to greener pastures will receive their check by mail (be sure they have your current address on file). AmEx says they expect to roll out all refunds out by March 15, 2013, according to the CFPB.
Here are the CFPB charges that landed them in hot water––and how much they’ll pay for it:
Bogus bonus point offer. “Consumers were sometimes led to believe they would receive $300 in addition to bonus points if they signed up for this American Express Centurion Bank program. But consumers who met the qualifications did not receive the $300.” These customers will receive a $300 refund.
Late fee violations. “American Express Centurion Bank and American Express Bank, FSB billed late fees on certain cards based on a percentage of the debt in violation of the Credit CARD Act.” These customers will be refunded all late fee charges, plus interest.
Age discrimination. “American Express Centurion Bank used a credit scoring system that treated charge card applicants differently on the basis of age. For a period of time, the bank did not fully implement the system for applicants over the age of 35.”
Dodgy debt collections. “Consumers were wrongly told that if they paid off the old debt, the payment would be reported to credit bureaus and could improve their credit scores. In fact, American Express was not reporting the payments and the debts were so old that even if they had tried to report them, many of the payments would not have appeared on these consumers’ credit reports or affected their credit scores.” These customers will be reimbursed whatever money they paid to settle old debt, plus interest.
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