Bank of America Ran "Illegal" Racket
This editorial is personal. I'm going to box Bankster of America in the ears!
Bank of America, here I come! While I probably should be editorializing on the big, small-inflation news of the day — big in that inflation beat expectations in a good way by a sizable amount, small in that it was because inflation beat by going small — I am, instead, going to box a bankster, an old enemy of mine, until his ears bleed!
The bankster, of course, won’t actually feel the pain, any more than it will feel enough pain from the quarter-billion dollar fine and remediation just imposed on Bank of America by regulators to stop its clearly “illegal,” if not criminal, activity. I know it will not feel that pain enough because it didn’t feel it enough the last time something like this happened, which was back in the day when Bank of America first became my arch enemy and when I started writing about the multiple notorious banks that have turned our entire financial system into a racket rigged for the profiteering of the greediest, fat-slob banksters who game the system then get bailed out time and again … like this:
The day I beat Bank of America … though they could not have cared less
This editorial is personal in that it is about how my own experience with BofA relates to the “illegal” activities of Bank of America that were just settled by regulators according to today’s news. Bankster of Amerika became my enemy back in the early 2000s when it wiped me out because of its arrogance and greed with a simple little trick that sounds awfully similar to the trick they have been turning for years that just got them fined a quarter of a billion dollars.
I doubt the fine will mean much because, if I recall correctly from so far back, last time they turned a similar trick, they lost the nation’s largest class-action law suit of the day. Clearly that taught them nothing, which shows the amount of money they make from their “illegal” activities must profit them more than penalties cost them. Does crime pay? (You’ll have to be the judge as to whether this is “criminal” since it wasn’t charged in a criminal court.)
Here was the simple trickery these greedy, pocket-robbers of their own clients pulled years ago: All they did was set a blatantly dishonest “minimum payment” on their credit cards. Now, if you were like me and like the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who successfully sued Bankster of Amerika, you would have thought you were a good customer if you routinely paid the “minimum payment due” without ever missing a payment or being late. You’d be just the kind of customer a bankster should love — the kind that is pressed (at the time) to keep their balance maxed out and, so, will keep paying interest without paying down principle. That’s a cash cow! And you would think that, being a cash cow in the herd who always made his or her minimum payments, you would not be open to any fines.
Back in those early days, I was not paying as much attention to what the bank was doing as I should have been. (I pay a lot more attention to what banks are doing since then!) So, imagine my surprise when I found out that my credit card had suddenly soared above its low introductory interest rate of something near 0% (which was why I thought myself clever for staying just below my maximum credit balance to keep rolling debt along for free). The interest had skyrocketed upward in a single leap, not to the non-introductory rate, but up to a seething, eye-inflaming 30%! (Or something very near that amount.) It had suddenly hit PENALTY INTEREST!
Why on earth? I wondered. I’ve maintained my payments on this card as faithfully as a religious fanatic. I would have thought Bank of America would make me its poster child since I had been so good. So, why had my card suddenly bolted upward to the most exorbitant interest I’d ever paid in my life?
I dug back through my old payment records to find out what had happened. Now, while I had been reading and paying my “minimum payment due” faithfully, I had not been reading the rest of the statement because I had made no charges on this card for months, AND it was not scheduled to move off of its absurdly no-or-low interest rate for several more months to come. So, I just wrote the check for the stated minimum payment due, knowing my balance was not able to rise above the maximum credit allowance because the card was filed away, always out of use and always paid on time.
Hold it! What’s happening here? I asked myself. The last three statements said my card was over-limit. How was that possible? Well, it turned out the bank had deliberately set its “minimum payment” at a level that would not be sufficient to cover the bank’s own interest in the month ahead so that the bank’s own interest put the card over limit. This was a scheme!
I was outraged. I contacted the bank, told them I wanted all the fees returned. I wanted all the penalty interest returned, and I wanted the interest on the fees and aggregated penalty interest returned, and I wanted anything they might have sent to credit agencies retracted. The interest and the balance were high enough that this amounted to about $500 in just that short time.
I told them, “You cannot set a minimum payment that you KNOW will not be sufficient to keep my card in good standing because, when you tell someone it is the ‘minimum payment due,’ you KNOW they believe paying that amount will keep them in good standing with the bank. You cannot do that when you KNOW your own interest will take the account immediately over its limits. Anyone would understand ‘minimum payment due’ as being the amount you, the bank, are vouching as a safe payment to keep everything in good standing.”
My argument landed on deaf ears.
Oh, but it was so much worse than that because, as soon as Bankster of Amerika raised my account to their exorbitant usury of about 30% interest, they also informed all credit agencies that I was a horrible risk! As a result, the very next month I discovered that ALL of my credit accounts went up to their maximum penalty interest levels of around 30% because they all had that small print that says, “In the event any of your credit accounts goes to penalty interest, we reserve the right to raise your account with us to our penalty-interest rate.” That, of course, hits you even though you have always remained a customer in FLAWLESS standing with them, as my credit rating throughout my life up to that day showed. This is a little clause banksters are always slavering to enact whenever they can find justification. They are ravens waiting to pick scraps of red road kill off the street.
I was wiped out. I couldn’t possibly pay 30% interest on all my debt. So, I wrote to all my banks, explaining what had happened as being due to Bank of America’s asinine notion that they could dish me a fake minimum payment amount, and I tried to work out payment arrangements with all of them if they would lower their interest back to whatever it had been since my credit with each of them had been maintained perfectly for years! Can you imagine that not a single bank would find my plea reasonable and work with me in this world of greedy banksters that our government always bails out? Can you imagine that not even a single one even responded? Even with my until-that-moment crystal-clean credit record, NO ONE would work with me.
Sooo … since the ONLY debt I owed to anyone was to all my friendly banksters, I filed for personal bankruptcy and defaulted on all of it, taking all them to the cleaners, instead of letting them take me there! I walked away forever from $70,000 in (mostly medical) debt that I had been rolling over during times of improving health. Yeah, it destroyed my credit rating, but what did I care!? Bank of America had already done such a thorough job of that for me! I was already paying the highest interest on the planet anyway due to their credit destruction. AND I had no desire to carry any new debt after that, so I was glad to flush all the old debt. David wins; Goliath loses all, except that wasn’t even a flesh wound to them!
The judge actually asked me only two or three questions, as if he had heard my situation before and had zero sympathy for the banks. The banks, in fact, were so complacent in their greed (or knew they were so guilty they didn’t want to get scolded by an unsympathetic judge) that they did not even bother to send a legal representative to the bankruptcy hearing. They could not be bothered with such chump change as me. So, the judge said with an actual smile, “Your debts are all forgiven. Have a nice day!” No payments required whatsoever.
Now, had the banks been reasonable, I would have sorted it all out with them, as I promised in my letters. I would have made scheduled payments to get those accounts all cleared — if the banks had removed their penalty interest; however, without that removal, there was no hope of ever getting out of the debtors prison with which they had suddenly encircled me. They LOVE their penalty interest, so they got nothing, and my damaged credit rating never hurt me one bit because, true to the new leaf I had turned over, I had no desire of taking out any new debt anyway.
In fact, once my bankruptcy was awarded, the banks knew I could not declare bankruptcy again for seven years, so I started receiving more low-interest credit offers than ever to try to ensnare me back into debtors prison! I didn’t take the bait.
Leading up to that end, I had told Bank of America that, if it would not be reasonable about all of this (for which all I ever got was a harsh scolding each time I talked to their nattering wombat of a phone witch), I would file a class-action law suit because I was certain there was no possible legal justification for what they had done. Well, when I talked with an attorney to file the suit on a contigency basis, the attorney discovered that Bankster of Amerika was already in a class-action lawsuit over that exact situation and was in process of working out the settlement.
Suddenly Bank of America started sending money my way, check after check, until they had returned $600, instead of the original $500 I had asked for, all without explanation! That was all before my bankruptcy claim but right after I started the process of filing a class-action suit. I assumed it was because, since they had settled on paying out something like $20-billion (or some other unholy number that would cause most people’s eyes to bleed) to settle the class-action law suit, the last thing they needed was someone filling another suit, claiming they were still doing the same thing and refusing to make good on it.
Of course, the bank did not explain why they were sending me this money, having long said they did not owe it back to me. I assumed they did not want to admit any continued wrongdoing during the time in which they were settling in court; but, of course, they still refused to clear my credit rating because that would require admitting to credit agencies their own wanton ways. They lost the suit, paid a fortune, but apparently that was not enough to learn any lesson because they just did something similar again. (It was their refusal to clear my credit rating that caused me to launch my own class-action law suit. That is, until I found one was already being settled.)
Bank of America’s new turn at illegal activity
In today’s news, BofA was hit with a mere quarter-billion-dollar fine over practically the same kind thing, but with a few added devilish turns:
Bank of America fined $250M over junk fees, withholding credit card perks and creating fake accounts
Bank of America on Tuesday agreed to pay $250 million in fines and compensation to settle claims the bank systematically double-charged customers fees, withheld promised credit card perks, and opened accounts without customer authorization.
Bank of America agreed to pay $100 million in restitution to harmed consumers and another $150 in civil penalties after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said the bank violated a number of laws beginning in 2012.
Oh, trust me, their violation of laws went back way before that. Maybe that was just the starting date for their new “crimes against humanity” because the last bit about opening credit-card accounts (to which they could hope to charge exorbitant fees) in the names of customers who had not even applied for a credit card account, much less with the customers’ signed permission to open the account, sounds like a little trick they learned from the deep Wells Fargo, notorious for the same kind of play. Watching Wells pay for its fraudulent accounts, rather than scaring BofA from attempting to do the same thing, must have caused its slithering executives to say, “Why didn’t we think of that? Get on it!”
The Wells-Fargo case was probably like an idea incubator for Bank of America! “You can do that, and only pay tens of billions in fines? We should be doing that! Get on it, or you're fired!” You can be sure those employees didn’t open the unapproved accounts (mentioned later in the article) in customer names without some higher pressure. (Damaging to customers, in itself, because having too many lines of credit open also dings your credit rating.)
Bank of America reaped hundreds of millions of dollars by charging multiple fees to customers who did not have enough funds in their accounts from February 2018 until February 2022, the CFPB said in a statement.
That is the bit that sounds awfully familiar to my experience with Bankster of Amerika where the bank connived a way to make certain my account did not have, in may case, a sufficiently LOW balance. In the present situation, they just turned the trick the other way to make sure their fees did keep customers’ balances sufficiently low enough to trigger more overdraft fees, instead of over-limit fees, as happened in my case.
Consumers could not reasonably expect or understand they would be hit with $35 fees each time the bank declined to pay a single transaction, regulators said.
I would imagine that worked something like this (though the story does not clarify exactly how the scheme worked, but only that the bank’s regulator determined it was “illegal”):
BofA sees that you have three checks about to clear. It notices that one of the checks is big enough to put your balance negative. So, it transfers your money from your savings and pays that one first, and charges you a tidy fee for the assistance in moving the money. Even though, it sees more checks in line for payment that day, it only transfers enough money to cover the one check. Now that the account is overdrawn, it processes the next check (which was much smaller and would not have made your account overdrawn, had it been processed first), and transfers more funds to cover it, and charges the tidy fee again. Then it does the same thing with the third even smaller check. Something like that. (Again, the article does not describe the particulars of the scheme, but I saw from my own experience how these greedy, illegal schemers work, so I’m must giving an analogy here of the kind of thing that would fit the general description, even though it may not be the way it went down — the kind of thing I’ve also experienced banks doing.)
In a statement, Bank of America, helmed by CEO Brian Moynihan, said it voluntarily eliminated or reduced a range of fees last year.
Because they are so nice, I’m sure. It could not be because they already knew they had been caught red-ink-handed.
This corruption, of course, is endemic. That is why …
The CFPB has launched a crackdown on a range of so-called “junk fees,” including overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees, it says lenders unfairly charge customers for banking services.
“These practices are illegal and undermine customer trust. The CFPB will be putting an end to these practices across the banking system,” CFPB director Rohit Chopra said in a statement.
Under sales pressure or seeking rewards, Bank of America employees illegally applied for and enrolled consumers, without their knowledge, in credit card accounts from at least 2012, the CFPB said….
The bank, based in Charlotte, NC, also failed to make good on cash rewards and bonus points promised to tens of thousands of credit card customers, according to the CFPB.
It is one thing when banksters charge you a fee when you screw up. It is another thing when they rig ways to help make SURE you screw up.
Bank of America shares closed up 1.3% at $29.02.
Of course they did! Wall Street loves its own!
And this is why I hate big banks and why I have dedicated a good part of my life to writing against their blatant greed and sometimes criminally dishonest activity … even as our nation faithfully bails them out practically every time their greed finally catches up to them! (At least, if they are the banks with the favorable “Too-Big-To-Fail” status.)
So, if you want to help a bankster warrior out who keeps after these guys, please consider a paid subscription to The Daily Doom to help me keep at it because I fund most of my time out of my savings, and that is just not sustainable. The Daily Doom is my way of doing something legitimate to earn my way through this bankster battle (like a mercenary) as I endlessly attack the sources of our daily doom, helping to expose the greed and relentlessly critiquing banksters who run the nation’s financial racket.
Singing the Bank of America blues
Now, here is a little video musical tribute I composed for Bankster of America and its buddies back near the day when they robbed me of my dignity and everything else they could take and then robbed most of America of their homes. It won’t win any Emmys and may even cause your dog to run for cover or howl in harmony; but, hey, it made me feel better. Maybe you’ll get some fun out of it as I sing for my
Now, here is your opportunity to support my efforts to keep attacking the banksters who are always attacking us. If you want someone to keep battling the banks, back him: