JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay California $50 million to resolve claims the bank cheated tens of thousands of credit-card customers while collecting debts from them, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said.
The accord announced Monday with the most populous U.S. state follows a settlement in July with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and 47 states in which JPMorgan pledged to pay $166 million and change its practices after regulators found that the bank used abusive tactics to collect debts.
Harris sued New York-based JPMorgan in May 2013, alleging that its Chase unit engaged in "widespread and illegal robo- signing" and other unlawful practices against credit-card borrowers. Chase, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, used the judicial system as a mill to obtain default judgments, according to the attorney general. The bank lost a bid last year to have the suit dismissed.
"Abusive and illegal debt-collection practices will not be tolerated in California," Harris said in a statement. "This settlement provides real relief to tens of thousands of Californians, including service members, and prevents JPMorgan Chase from continuing these deceptive and illegal debt-collection practices."
The bank on Monday repeated what it said when the July settlement was reached.
"Chase has taken extensive steps over the past four years and is pleased to resolve these legacy issues," according to its statement. "It is working to complete remediation of affected card customers."
The California attorney general alleged that from 2009 to 2013, Chase filed more than 125,000 credit-card collection lawsuits against consumers relying on illegally robo-signed — approved without adequate review — sworn documents and sent letters to consumers that contained illegal threats.
Harris also claimed that Chase sold third-party collectors "zombie debts" that included accounts that were inaccurate, settled, discharged in bankruptcy, not owed, or otherwise not collectible.
Harris said in her statement Monday that the settlement also included $50 million in restitution for consumers nationwide, including $10 million for California customers.