Recently, the CFPB took action against Bank of America for breaking federal laws that apply to financial products, including bank accounts and credit cards. The bank is required to pay more than $100 million to customers who were harmed, plus a $90 million fine that goes to the CFPB victims relief fund and another $60 million penalty paid to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Bank of America is the nation’s second largest bank, with about 68 million individual and small business accounts. If you are a Bank of America customer, here’s information to help you understand whether you may have been harmed, what refunds and reimbursements to expect, and what else to watch for.
Refunds and reimbursements coming from Bank of America
Customers who fit the descriptions below can expect payments from Bank of America. You don’t need to take action to receive the money. Some customers have already received their payments. Former customers will receive theirs in the mail.
Bank account customers who were overcharged fees for insufficient funds
For years, Bank of America had a practice of “double-dipping” on deposit accounts with insufficient funds. This means if a check or other withdrawal didn’t go through because you didn’t have enough money in your account, the bank could have rejected the transaction again and again, charging a $35 fee (known as a non-sufficient funds, or NSF, fee) each time.
Where customers stand now: Bank of America stopped charging all non-sufficient funds fees last year and refunded tens of millions in dollars in fees to harmed customers. This means that people who were charged multiple fees may have already had some of the money returned to their bank accounts.
What happens next: Bank of America must stop “double-dipping” for good. The bank must also refund more than $80 million to customers. If you are one of those customers, the refund will be made directly to your account. Former Bank of America customers will receive refunds in the mail.
Bank of America is setting up a dedicated customer service center to handle questions from people who have been overcharged for NSF fees. Have your account information on hand, along with details about how you were affected, and then call toll-free 1-855-729-1764 to reach customer service and discuss your personal situation. You can reach them by e-mail at NSFinquiry@bofa.com or by mail at P.O. Box 25118, Tampa, FL 33622-5118.
Credit card customers who were promised rewards points and cash bonuses
Bank of America advertised bonuses and rewards to credit card customers, and then failed to provide them to everyone who qualified. Instead, the bonuses and rewards went to customers who signed up online only, leaving out customers who signed up by phone or in person. Signup bonuses to some new customers were also denied.
Where customers stand now: Rewards and bonus points have been credited to many affected customers already.
What happens next: Bank of America is required to clearly state who is and is not eligible for the offers they advertise and promote. If the bank hasn’t yet provided the correct points and rewards, it must credit these correctly to people’s accounts.
Customers who didn’t give authorization to open new credit cards
Since 2012, Bank of America had a sales incentive program for its employees, rewarding them when they met goals for opening new credit card accounts. Some employees opened credit cards for customers who never applied for or agreed to the new accounts. Customers might have incurred fees or had damage to their credit reports as a result.
Where customers stand now: Bank of America has paused the sales incentive program that was encouraging employees to break the law. The bank has reimbursed costs for some affected customers already.
What happens next: Bank of America must stop opening unauthorized accounts. The bank must also remove entries that could show up on credit reports for people who had accounts opened without their permission. The bank is required to submit a plan that identifies harmed consumers and explains how the bank will make payments or refunds to them. We expect the plan within 30 days, and once we allow the plan to go ahead, the bank must provide refunds within one year.
Steps you can take to resolve problems with Bank of America or other financial companies
Generally, your first step is to try to resolve your problem directly with the financial institution. That’s because they can answer questions about their own products and services and look into your unique situation.
If the problem isn’t resolved, the next step you can take is to submit a complaint to the CFPB. To submit by phone, call (855) 411-CFPB (2372). We’ll forward your complaint to the company and work to get you a response. Most companies respond to complaints within 15 days.
If you are aware of problems because you are an employee or former employee of a financial company, you can alert us by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. We review every submission.