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Many American Express Customers Will Receive Refund Because of 'Illegal Card Practices'

American Express will refund about $85 million to approximately 250,000 customers.

If you have taken part in American Express’ “Blue Sky” credit card program, you may have some money coming your way.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced an “enforcement action” today against three American Express subsidiaries that will refund about $85 million to approximately 250,000 customers after “illegal card practices,” said CFPB.

CFPB alleges that an investigation found that “every stage of the consumer experience, from marketing to enrollment to payment to debt collection, American Express violated consumer protection laws.”

“Several American Express companies violated consumer protection laws and those laws were violated at all stages of the game – from the moment a consumer shopped for a card to the moment the consumer got a phone call about long overdue debt,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “Today’s orders require the American Express companies to fully refund about $85 million to consumers and it requires them to make specific changes in their business practices. The American Express companies will identify the harmed customers, notify them, and make sure they get back their money.”

According to the CFPB: "The investigations found that the violations occurred at various points in time between 2003 and spring 2012. They occurred at every stage of the consumer experience, from shopping for cards, to applying for cards, to paying charges, and to paying off debt."

These include: 

  • Deceived consumers who signed up for the American Express “Blue Sky” credit card program.
  • Charged unlawful late fees.
  • Unlawfully discriminated against new account applicants on the basis of age.
  • Failed to report consumer disputes to consumer reporting agencies.
  • Misled consumers about debt collection

The feds said the American Express subsidiaries have agreed "to correct their practices and refund consumers who were harmed by the illegal practices." This includes: 

  • End the illegal practices
  • Full repayment of an estimated $85 million to approximately 250,000 consumers
  • Convenient repayment for consumers
  • Inform consumers of debt collection rights
  • Independent audit
  • Pay civil monetary penalty of $27.5 million

Click this sentence for the complete press release from the CFPB. 

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