JPMorgan Chase may have settled some of its financial crisis indiscretions with a $13 billion settlement, but a new Mississippi lawsuit says the company is still conducting shady dealings, this time with late-paying customers.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a lawsuit in federal court on Dec. 18, claiming that JPMorgan committed misconduct when it sued credit card customers in order to collect funds. The lawsuit comes after an 18-month investigation by the AG’s office as well as several conversations with the company.
According to the lawsuit, JPMorgan attempted to collect on balances that either did not exist or had already been paid in full. The lawsuit said the bank “knowingly and willfully made false and misleading statements” and their lawsuits filed were “uncertified and lacked evidence.”
One woman mentioned in the lawsuit claims she was “harassed” by JPMorgan, according to The Wall Street Journal, over an already-paid balance, and the bank later attempted to contact her mother and ex-husband when the woman refused to pay again.
“Consumers' paychecks were garnished and their credit damaged, making it harder for them to refinance their homes, take out a car or student loans, or even get jobs,” Hood said in a statement.
Strangely enough, the AG’s office believes that JPMorgan never actually intended on litigating against these customers. Instead, the lawsuit says, the bank filed “requests for admissions” that asked the customer to acknowledge the funds due, while the bank “relied on the fact that many consumers would not have the time, knowledge or capacity to respond to its allegations.”
The lawsuit says the investigation revealed JPMorgan’s ability to actually collect late funds was not much better. Allegedly, the bank and its outside law firm “routinely” violated the Service Members Civil Relief Act by stating definitively that a customer was not in the military, and thus ineligible for benefits, when it had no way of determining that information.
JPMorgan GC Stephen Cutler may have questioned big bank fines in the days after the Department of Justice financial crisis settlement, but this problem on his hands may lead to even more trouble. According to Bloomberg, California filed a similar suit in May, and 15 other states are investigating JPMorgan’s credit card collection lawsuits.
For more on JPMorgan’s (numerous) legal troubles, check out the InsideCounsel articles: