Hey, remember when JPMorgan Chase abruptly suspended all their debt collection court cases a couple months ago? Now we’re learning more about the problems in their debt collection arena. And surprise, we have more robo-signing!
The abuses are so bad that even the bank-friendly Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has been roused to investigate:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. took procedural shortcuts and used faulty account records in suing tens of thousands of delinquent credit card borrowers for at least two years, current and former employees say.
The process flaws sparked a regulatory probe by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and forced the bank to stop suing delinquent borrowers altogether last year.
The bank’s errors could call into question the legitimacy of billions of dollars in outstanding claims against debtors and of legal judgments Chase has already won, current and former Chase employees say.
For the banking industry at large, the situation at Chase highlights the risk that shoddy back-office procedures and flawed legal work extends well beyond mortgage servicing.
“We did not verify a single one” of the affidavits attesting to the amounts Chase was seeking to collect, says Howard Hardin, who oversaw a team handling tens of thousands of Chase debt files in San Antonio. “We were told [by superiors] ‘We’re in a hurry. Go ahead and sign them.’”
Linda Almonte, a former Chase employee, made similar allegations back in 2010, which have been corroborated by these accounts. Back then she alleged that Chase sold credit card debt to third parties while knowing that the balances on the accounts were incorrect or overstated. In addition, Almonte asserted that Chase executives routinely destroyed information sent by consumers looking to resolve complaints. That’s on top of the robo-signing. Almonte filed the case with the SEC, but it’s finally made its way to the proper federal regulator. And all of the claims, including the trashing of borrower documents, were recapitulated here. JPMorgan Chase, of course, claims that “the overwhelming majority” of their credit card suits were correct. That means some of them weren’t, right?
More from Yves Smith and Pat Garofalo. The abuses described here are serious and extensive. Of course, the OCC’s mission in life is to protect banks. So I look forward to the resolution of these debt collection robo-signing claims (and by the way, the credit card holders should have just paid their balances!) with a settlement releasing liability in exchange for consumer relief paid for by, I don’t know, depositors.