Fraudulent paperwork, cheated counterparties, robosigning — no it’s not the housing crisis again. This time the crimes are related to the Too Big To Fail/Jail banks’ conduct with credit cards. Both JPMorgan and Citigroup have now reached settlements with the government related to their criminal credit card practices.
Last month, JPMorgan paid $136 million after 47 states along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that the bank sold so-called “zombie debts” — debts that are inaccurate or non-existent — to debt collectors who then tried to collect from JPMorgan customers. In many cases debt collectors ended up hounding people who did not actually owe any money to JPMorgan.
This is not the first time JPMorgan’s credit card business has gotten the bank into trouble. In 2013, JPMorgan was ordered to repay $309 million to customers and $80 million in fines due to unfair billing practices such as charging customers for credit security services that they never received. Whether the latest sanctions will change the bank’s behavior remains to be seen.
Citigroup will also be paying out a nine figure sum for misconduct in its credit card business. The CFPB has ordered Citigroup to pay $700 million back to customers. The bank will also be subject to $70 million in fines — $35 million to the CFPB and $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC).
The order comes after an investigation into Citigroup’s credit card practices revealed that the bank tricked customers about the fees they would pay as well as charging customers fees for services the bank never actually provided. The total of the repayments and fines only amount to 1% of Citigroup’s estimated revenue for 2015.
Despite their criminal history both Wall Street firms continue to thrive financially. JPMorgan remains the largest bank in the country by assets with its CEO, Jamie Dimon, recently becoming a billionaire.