Bank of America has been ordered to pay a $30 million civil penalty for allegedly wrongfully using documents in litigation for debt collection and for violating a law protecting members of the military and their families.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced the fine Friday. The regulatory claimed that the $2 trillion-asset bank had "deficiencies" in its compliance program that was meant to ensure military personnel received certain benefits required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
The violations reportedly involve 73,000 different bank accounts belonging to military members. The bank was also cited for mishandling sworn documents that were used for litigating defaulted non-home loans.
The OCC said Bank of America took improper legal action against military customers for delinquent credit card accounts and overdrafts. The practices allegedly occurred from January 2006 to the present.
Bank of America Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., said it will continue to improve its compliance with the law. It did not confirm or deny any wrongdoing.
Bank of America pointed out a news release that the litigation practices cited in the order were "from several years ago for a small percentage of credit card and" overdraft customers who had defaulted. The company said it has been addressing the issues since 2011, when they first came to light.
"We have taken significant steps over the last several years, and will take further steps now, to ensure we have the right controls and processes in place to meet and exceed what is required by law and what our customers deserve and expect," Andrew Plepler, the bank's executive in charge of social responsibility and consumer policy, said in a statement.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act seeks to ease financial strain on servicemembers as a mode to help them cope with other stresses brought on by military service. The law limits how much interest banks can charge on military members' accounts while they are deployed and prevents banks from repossessing vehicles and foreclosing homes on soldiers without a court order.
Bank of America said the OCCs order affects a "small percentage" of credit card and deposit overdraft customers.
In 2013, the O.C.C. was involved in a similar investigation of JPMorgan Chase.