The Bank Slate


Citizens in R.I. to pay $9M fine to resolve CFPB probe

Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., will pay a $9 million fine to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to address claims its bank failed to investigate credit card billing disputes and fraud claims.

The CFPB said in a press release that the $222.3 billion-asset Citizens also settled allegations that the bank failed to consistently refund all charges, including finance charges and fees.

“Federal law provides important rights to credit cardholders when disputing transactions and resolving billing errors,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in the release. “As outstanding credit card debt approaches $1 trillion, the CFPB will be closely watching the conduct of the credit card industry.”

The bureau filed a lawsuit against Citizens in 2020 for activities spanning 2010 to 2016 that the bank had self-reported. Citizens pushed back against the litigation, asserting that it voluntarily remediated 25,000 impacted customers.

In response, Citizens said that it voluntarily began remediation efforts and had contacted the CFPB in 2015 after the bank “self-identified operational errors” that may have impacted roughly 2% of its customers. The bank said its remediation “exceeded all obligations to make customers whole.” 

“While Citizens continues to disagree with the CFPB’s stance with respect to these long-resolved issues, which were self-identified and voluntarily addressed years ago, we are pleased to put this matter behind us,” Polly Klane, Citizens’ general counsel, said in a statement.

“We remain proud of our commitment to transparency, our rigorous compliance programs, and our consistent effort to treat customers fairly and operate responsibly,” Klane added.

Citizens was ordered to fix its credit card practices. The $9 million fine will go to the bureau’s victims relief fund.

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