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7 of Region's Nonprofits to Share $21 Million of Chase Settlement

heraldtribune.com | June 12, 2015

By John Hielscher

Seven Southwest Florida nonprofits will share a part of the $21.5 million that the state will collect in a settlement with Chase Bank over unlawful credit card debt-collection practices.

Local agencies slated to receive funds include Gulf Coast Legal Services, Legal Aid of Manasota, Junior Achievement chapters in Manatee and Sarasota counties, Charlotte County Department of Human Services, Manatee Community Action Agency and Sarasota County Health and Human Services Business Center.

Florida will receive the largest share of the $136 million national settlement that Chase reached with 47 states and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

More than 5,000 Chase customers in Florida will pocket $4.6 million in restitution after the CFPB sanctioned Chase for selling bad credit card debt and illegally robo-signing court documents.

The CFPB and the states found that Chase sold "zombie debts" to third-party debt buyers, which included accounts that were inaccurate, settled, discharged in bankruptcy, not owed or otherwise not collectible.

Chase, the nation's largest bank, was ordered to stop attempting to collect or sell the debt on 528,000 accounts. It will pay at least $50 million in consumer refunds, $136 million in penalties to the CFPB and the states, and a $30 million fine to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

"Chase sold bad credit card debt and robo-signed documents in violation of law," CFPB director Richard Cordray said.

The company said it stopped the debt-collection practices "years ago."

"Chase has taken extensive steps over the past four years and is pleased to resolve these legacy issues," the company said in a statement.

Florida will earmark $15.3 million for 47 non-profit organizations to spend on legal services, financial literacy and other programs to help consumers manage debt.

State Attorney General Pam Bondi said the agreement requires Chase to reform its credit card debt-collection practices, including in debt buying, which involves the sale of debt by creditors, often for pennies on the dollar, to buyers who then attempt to collect the debt at full value or sell it.


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