Citizens Bank Fined $35M by Regulators Over Checking Accounts

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WASHINGTON — The two subsidiaries of Citizens Financial Group will pay a combined $34.5 million to settle charges they engaged in "unfair and deceptive" actions related to deposit processing.

The $105 billion-asset Citizens Bank NA of Providence, R.I., and the $34 billion-asset Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania will pay a combined $14 million to refund affected customers and businesses and an additional $20.5 million in civil money penalties to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Regulators said that between 2008 and 2013, the banks failed to detect and correct discrepancies in the amount stated on consumers' deposit slips and the amount actually deposited into customer accounts. When the bank found a difference, the bank kept the difference without seeking out the customer to refund the discrepancy. The bank sometimes also over credited customers, regulators said.

"Citizens Bank regularly denied customers the full credits of their deposits when there were discrepancies between deposit slips and the actual money transferred into the bank," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. "The bank chose to ignore these discrepancies and harmed many consumers by pocketing the difference."

In a statement, Citizens said, "As we continue to improve our overall performance as a company, we are pleased to have resolved this matter from an earlier era."

The bank said it has been taking steps to remedy the problem, including the implementation of a new teller system in 2013. It said that "we believe our process is now considered among the best in the industry."

The bank said it will redress customers "as quickly as possible." Customers who were overcredited will keep the excess funds and under-credited customers will be reimbursed, the bank said.

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