In a major victory for the average American and proof that not only do we need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) but we needed it years ago, Capitol One bank is refunding $150 million to swindled customers. This is in addition to the $60 million in civil damages from pressuring and misleading almost 2 million customers who sought to open a credit card with the bank.
The LA Times reports:
Bureau examiners found that Capital One’s call-center vendors “engaged in deceptive tactics” to persuade customers with low credit scores or credit limits to pay for add-on products when they activated their credit cards. Those products included payment protection if the customer was unemployed or temporarily disabled, and monitoring of their credit for identity theft and other problems.
But Cordray said the customers “were pressured or misled into buying credit card products they didn’t understand, didn’t want, or in some cases, couldn’t even use.”
The bureau said that customers sometimes were misled into believing that the products would improve their credit scores and help them increase the credit limit on their Capital One credit card. Vendors working for Capital One also sometimes led customers to believe the products were free or were not optional purchases, and misled them about how the products worked, the bureau said.
In addition, customers sometimes were wrongly told they had to buy the product before they could be given full information about it but could always cancel the service, only to have difficulty canceling later.
Conservatives would have us believe that the customer is responsible for knowing if the bank is misleading them and that if they didn’t do their own research, that’s their problem. In the next breath they also tell us that corporations would never deliberately harm their customers because the “free” market would punish them. So we should trust the banks but if they lie to us it’s our own fault for believing them. It’s a perfect tautology for holding banks unaccountable for their actions.
Capital One also wisely uses outside contractors for this kind of deceptive work so they can claim complete innocence:
Capital One said third-party vendors it hired “did not always adhere to company sales scripts and sales policies for payment protection and credit-monitoring products, and the bank did not adequately monitor their activities.”
Quite believable in the sense that Capitol One saw that the numbers were good and didn’t want to know how it was getting done. The ends justify the means, especially when profit is involved.
It’s exactly this kind of customer abuse that the CFPB was created to stop. Yet the GOP violently opposed it because, to the Republicans, watchdogging the banksters is tyranny, and they’re right as long as you define “tyranny” as “stopping banks from stealing from their customers.” There is literally no clearer indication about where the loyalties of the GOP lie. They are not with the people on the Main Street, they are with the people on Wall Street and they don’t give a damn about the rest of us.
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