WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s $1.4 million fine against a large third-party processor for debt relief companies underscores how regulators are increasingly holding financial firms responsible for their clients' business practices.

The CFPB said Thursday that it charged one of the nation's largest payment processors, Washington-based Meracord LLC, for processing $11.5 million in illegal upfront fees from consumers on behalf of debt-relief service providers. The agency has already taken action against a handful of providers that Meracord processed payments for, which ultimately spurred the CFPB's investigation into the company.

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