Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a $225 million settlement of two major credit card enforcement matters with Synchrony Bank, formerly known as GE Capital Retail Bank. First, the “add-on matter” targets alleged deceptive marketing of credit card add-on products in violation of the deceptive prong of Dodd Frank’s unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) prohibition. Second, the “offer exclusion matter” addresses alleged discrimination against Hispanics in connection with debt relief offers to credit card customers, which excluded certain Spanish-speaking customers and all customers in Puerto Rico.
The settlement underscores the bureau’s ongoing focus on UDAAP violations, particularly with respect to add-on products and potentially “deceptive” marketing by employees and third parties. Digging beneath the $225 million headline, the agreements also highlight the upsides of self-reporting done right — not only did the bank not pay any civil monetary penalty (CMP) for its potentially serious violations in the offer exclusion matter, but it appears to be paying nothing more than it had already offered to proactively pay in remediation.
Originally published in Law360, New York on June 25, 2014.
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