Another Story About How Class Actions Help and Arbitration Hurts Consumers, Military Families

From Paul Bland in HuffPo, CFPB Rule Fight Forces Senators to Choose: Military Families or Big Banks. Excerpt:

When Gary Childress of Raleigh, North Carolina learned in July 2008 that he was being deployed to Iraq as part of his Army National Guard service, one of the things he did before reporting for duty was to contact Bank of America, where he and his wife Anne had a credit card account. He wanted to let the bank know that he was on active-duty status because under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA, a law passed by Congress in 2003 to reduce burdens on military families, all interest rates on debts that servicemembers owed before going on active status must be reduced to 6%. This interest rate protection was significant to the Childresses, who owed over $5000 on their Bank of America credit card with an interest rate of around 27% when Gary left for Iraq.

Bank of America began sending Anne Childress monthly statements suggesting that the interest rate on the account had been reduced to 6% as the SCRA requires. But according to a lawsuit the bank just settled in federal court in North Carolina, these statements were deceptive. In fact, the bank was actually continuing to charge a much higher interest rate. And the Childresses were not alone; the bank’s own internal audits, as well as an investigation conducted by the Office Of the Comptroller of the Currency, revealed that nearly 130,000 servicemembers and their families were affected * * *

[I]n July of 2017, [the military families] reached a settlement with Bank of America that will award nearly $30 million, after fees and expenses, to the approximately 130,000 military families who were overcharged and deceived by the bank. The cheated servicemembers will not need to file claims in order to receive compensation under the settlement; the amount owed to each class member will be calculated based on Bank of America’s records, and checks will be sent out automatically. * * *

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