State garners $4 million from suit against Chase

Chase Bank and Chase Bankcard Services will halt its unlawful credit card debt collection practices as a result of a recent joint state-federal investigation that found Chase stacked the deck against consumers by pursuing collections cases based on false information.

Some instances include listing debt that was the wrong amount, tied to the wrong person, discharged, or time-barred — what’s often called “zombie debt.”

Washington will receive $4 million as part of the agreement.

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office was one of the lead states that conducted an investigation of Chase’s debt collection practices from 2009-2014. This ultimately led to the enforcement action being announced today.

“Chase’s unfair and deceptive debt collection practices directly harmed 7,000 Washington consumers,” said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “With today’s enforcement action, I am holding Chase accountable for breaking the rules, while ending unfair collection efforts against Washington consumers.”

Investigation uncovered unlawful debt collection practices

Washington was part of a multi-state investigation, led by Attorneys General in 47 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

According to the joint state-federal probe, Chase violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by:

  • Subjecting consumers to incorrect account collections activity.

  • Selling certain accounts to debt buyers that were inaccurate, settled, discharged in bankruptcy, not owed by the consumer, or otherwise uncollectable.

  • Causing inaccurate credit reporting and unlawful judgments that may affect consumers’ ability to obtain credit, employment, housing and insurance in the future.

  • Filing lawsuits and obtaining judgments against consumers using false and deceptive affidavits and other documents that were prepared without proper procedures, a practice commonly referred to as “robo-signing.” These practices misled consumers and courts and caused consumers to pay for false or incorrect debt and incur legal expenses and court fees to defend against invalid or excessive claims.

  • Making calculation errors when filing debt collection lawsuits that sometimes resulted in judgments against consumers for incorrect amounts.

Chase, under the agreement, will cease collecting on 528,000 accounts, 7,000 of those are in Washington state.

Chase sued the affected consumers for credit card debts and obtained judgments between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014.

Chase will notify affected consumers of the change and will request that all three major credit reporting agencies not report the judgments.

The agreement requires Chase to significantly reform its credit card debt collection practices. The agreement requires new safeguards to help ensure debt information is accurate and inaccurate data is corrected, provides additional information to consumers who owe debts, and bars Chase’s debt buyers from reselling consumer debts to other purchasers.

The agreement also tightens evidence requirements in collections litigation.

Chase will pay $106 million to the 47 participating states and the District of Columbia and $30 million to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Washington’s share is approximately $4 million.

This agreement also ensures that Chase will fulfill its pre-existing obligation to provide $50 million in consumer restitution in accordance with a separate 2013 consent order reached with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Of that, restitution to 340 Washington residents will total $552,000.


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