California Sues JPMorgan Over How It Collected Credit Card Debt

If the big banks thought they were out of the clear, well, they thought wrong. This time it’s California going after JPMorgan, suing the company over claims that it used aggressive and illegal tactics to collect credit card debt from thousands of consumers.

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris leveled accusations against JPMorgan Chase of operating a “debt collection mill” that sent 100,000 lawsuits to court so quickly that consumers couldn’t fight back, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Robo-signing rears its ugly ahead again in this case, as it did back during the housing crisis. California says JPMorgan used that same tactic to send documents through without glancing at them.

Instead, Harris alleges, JPMorgan used incomplete records and wrong info to make its cases against consumers, and says that sometimes low-level employees were signing off on documents they shouldn’t have.

On top of all that, the suit claims JPMorgan revealed customers’ credit card numbers, which could have exposed them to identity theft. It also didn’t notify customers that they even had lawsuits filed against them, says Harris, in a practice called “sewer service” litigation.

The bank “abused the judicial process and engaged in serious misconduct against California credit card borrowers,” Harris said. “This enforcement action seeks to hold [JPMorgan] accountable for systematically using illegal tactics to flood California’s courts with specious lawsuits against consumers.”

JPMorgan says it ceased the practice of suing credit card customers in early 2011. But before that, the lawsuit counters that it flooded the courts with suits, filing thousands every month between 2008 and April 2011.

“We’re going to continue to cooperate and work with the AG’s office,” a JPMorgan spokesman said.

California sues JPMorgan over debt collection tactics [Los Angeles Times]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.