Most New Jersey residents have at least one credit card and likely receive many more credit card offers in the mail each week. Through flashy marketing materials, banks and credit card companies aggressively market to American consumers, promising 0 percent interest rates and appealing debt transfer options. In recent years, these financial institutions also began offering other so-called “add-on” products promising consumers debt cancellation protection in the event of job loss or identity theft
Recently, the need for and legitimacy of many of these add-on products has gained the attention of federal regulatory agencies including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Bank of America is the most recent financial company to be targeted by the CFPB, which asserts the banking conglomerate used deceptive practices when marketing add-on products to consumers. Bank of America officials are reportedly participating in talks with the CFBP and have offered to pay more than $800 million to effectively quiet accusations that they used misleading and deceptive practices when attempting to sell consumers add-on products.
In recent years, many Americans have experienced firsthand the devastating financial repercussions associated with a job loss or identity theft. Federal regulators contend U.S. banks and credit card companies intentionally played off these fears to take advantage of U.S. consumers. One 48-year-old woman recently told of the frustrations and troubles she encountered after losing her job. While attempting to activate one of Bank of America’s debt cancellation add-on products, the woman was forced to fill out multiple forms numerous times. When the service was finally activated, the woman contends that much of her debt remained despite Bank of America’s promise that the add-on product would help eliminate debts if an individual lost his or her job.
Add-on products are just one example of the deceptive and predatory practices often used by banks and credit card companies. Under the guise of offering consumers protection, banks and credit card companies prey on Americans who may still be reeling from a recent job loss or case of identity theft. In cases where an individual has questions about how to resolve debt problems, a bankruptcy attorney can provide advice about options and help an individual effectively regain financial control and security.
The Wall Street Journal, “Bank of America in Settlement Talks Over Credit-Card Practices,” Alan Zibel, Robin Sidel and Christina Rexrode, April 3, 2014