Credit card restitution payments begin

Consumers to split more than $800 million

The Sacramento BeeJanuary 1, 2013 

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    For details on the three credit-card settlements, call 1-855-411-CFPB or go to the CFPB's website at Consumerfinance.gov. If you've had a problem with financial services, you can also file complaints with the CFPB by phone or online.

In the coming weeks, more than $425 million in refunds and restitution is going out to millions of consumers nationwide, thanks to a recent round of crackdowns on deceptive credit card practices by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

And another $410 million — from Bank of America — is already landing in pockets of millions who got stuck with excessive debit card fees.

In most cases, no one's going to get rich off these settlements. In fact, folks will likely get back just pennies on the dollar.

With both the credit card and Bank of America rebates, consumers don't need to do anything to get their money. The companies are required to contact customers, whose refunds will be automatically deposited into an existing account. If they're not a current customer, they'll be mailed a check.

Here's a list of some of the recent refunds under way:

Bank of America: Roughly $410 million involves Bank of America checking or savings accounts — accessed with a debit card — between January 2001 and May 2011.

According to the class-action lawsuit that resulted in the settlement, Bank of America routinely processed debit transactions in order of highest to lowest amounts.

Instead of debiting them chronologically in the order they occurred, the bank started with the highest amount. If that exceeded what was in the person's bank account, then every subsequent debit charge racked up overdraft fees, which typically are $35 per transaction. As a result, some consumers got dinged thousands in overdraft fees.

For more details on the Bank of America settlement, go to Bofaoverdraftsettlement.com or call 1-800-372-2390.

American Express: Three AmEx subsidiaries were ordered to pay $85 million to about 250,000 cardholders for various illegal credit card practices between 2003 and spring 2012.

The repayments include: unlawful late fees (with interest); $300 to those who didn't receive the promised bonus when signing up for AmEx's "Blue Sky" cards; and $100 to those who were misled and denied cards for unforgiven debt amounts.

American Express customers are expected to receive payments no later than March 31.

Capital One: It's been ordered to pay $140 million to 2 million customers "who 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 CFPB said in a statement.

Those customers will be reimbursed — with interest — for financial products purchased after August 2010. The repayments are expected to be delivered by the end of this year.

Discover: Accused of deceptive telemarketing tactics to sell various "add-on" credit card products, Discover is paying $200 million to more than 3.5 million consumers who were billed between December 2007 and August 2011.

Those extra products included credit score monitoring, as well as "protection" for identity theft, stolen wallets or delayed payments caused by job loss or hospitalization.

The payments are expected to start in early 2013 and be concluded by mid-February.

In addition, all three companies are paying a combined $66.5 million in civil penalties to various federal agencies.

As the checks start rolling out, the CFPB is reminding consumers about potential scams involving the various refunds.

"When large numbers of consumers get refunds, scammers sometimes pop up," the CFPB warns on its website. "If someone tries to charge you, tries to get you to disclose your personal information, or asks you to cash a check and send a portion to a third party in order to 'claim your refund,' it's a scam."

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