CFPB Exams Return $140 Million to Consumers Hit by Illegal Junk Fees in Banking, Auto Loans, and Remittances
October 11, 2023 / Source: CFPB
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a special edition of its Supervisory Highlights focused on the agency’s efforts to protect consumers from illegal junk fees. The junk fees discussed in the report – including fees for fake paper statements and worthless add-on products for auto loans – can strain the financial stability of even the most financially savvy families. As a result of the CFPB’s supervisory work, the companies in today’s report are refunding $140 million to consumers, $120 million of which is for surprise overdraft fees and double-dipping on non-sufficient funds fees. A separate report today finds that most financial institutions have eliminated non-sufficient funds fees, saving consumers an estimated $2 billion every year.
“The CFPB continues to uncover junk fee scams that violate the law and undermine consumer trust,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We will continue to combat the illegal fees cropping up in consumer finance markets.”
This Supervisory Highlights special edition covers junk fees in the areas of bank account deposits, auto loan servicing, and remittances found during examinations between February and August 2023. CFPB oversight has identified instances of companies charging a variety of junk fees, including for:
- Fake paper statements: Some institutions charge customers monthly fees for sending paper bank statements. CFPB examiners found instances where banks charged fees for statements they never actually printed or mailed.
- Worthless add-on products for paid-off auto loans: When people purchase cars, they sometimes have purchase loan add-on products, like guaranteed asset protection (GAP) insurance. In situations when borrowers paid off their loan early or had their vehicle repossessed, CFPB examiners found that loan servicers continued to charge fees for the add-on products, which no longer offered any value.
- Sloppy international money transfers: CFPB examiners found remittance providers charged hidden fees by taking money out of the funds consumers sent without properly disclosing them. In other instances, CFPB examiners found remittance providers failed to refund fees when the money consumers sent failed to arrive on time.
Additionally, CFPB examiners found how service providers contribute to many banks’ illegal fee practices. These companies provide critical deposit, payment, and data processing services to many banks’ operation systems. Those operation systems have contributed to banks’ double-dipping on non-sufficient funds fees on a single transaction. The CFPB directed these service providers to stop supporting banks’ ability violate the law.
When CFPB examiners uncover problems, they share their findings with companies to help them remediate violations. Typically, as with many of the instances identified within today’s report, companies take actions to fix the identified problems. For more serious violations or when companies fail to take corrective actions, the CFPB opens investigations for potential enforcement actions.
Non-sufficient funds fees report
The CFPB has enhanced its supervision and enforcement scrutiny of banks that are heavily dependent on fees. Over the past several years, more financial institutions have voluntarily moved away from charging non-sufficient funds fees. In a data spotlight published today, the CFPB found that the vast majority of reported NSF fee revenue has been eliminated. The policy changes among financial institutions that led to this change are expected to save consumers $2 billion annually.
Consumers can submit complaints about financial products or services by visiting the CFPB’s website or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
Employees who believe their company has violated federal consumer financial protection laws are encouraged to send information about what they know to [email protected].
Read today’s related press release, CFPB Issues Guidance to Halt Large Banks from Charging Illegal Junk Fees for Basic Customer Service.