by Susanne Posel
September 26, 2014
US Bank (USB) has
agreed to settle on a $48 million payout to an estimated 420,000
customers because they were illegally billed for services they did
not agree to.
For nearly a decade, from February 2003
to August 2012, USB charged customers who were "eligible" for an
identity theft protection (ITP) that was "never fully received".
The ITP products, called
Privacy Guard (PG) and
Identity Secure (IS)
are credit monitoring programs that:
Promised debt cancellation or
deferment became very popular in the wake of the recession
as Americans sought to shield themselves from unforeseen
Promised to monitor customers'
credit and alert them to fraudulent activity on their
Ironically, on the IS website,
emphatically state they,
"do not make deceptive claims or
charge [customers] for insurance coverage [they] never
However, this marketing
technique was so zealously pushed with a de-emphasis on
"terms or enrolled unwitting customers."
Affinion to employ
In a portion of the cases reported, USB,
"never received authorization but started billing customers for the
"the global leader in the designing, marketing and
servicing of comprehensive customer engagement and loyalty solutions
that enhance and extend the relationship of millions of consumers
with many of the largest and most respected companies in the world."
For perspective Affinion, the
corporation hired to aggressively sell USB ITP to customers (and
simply sign them up without their consent of knowledge), is
privately owned by Apollo Management who
reported total revenue for June of 2014 as $579.1 million.
also involved with,
Bank of America (BoA)
...providing CMPs and was integral in the cause
for a $210 million settlement between customers and those financial
institutions for fraudulent charges on marketed services.
According to the Office of
the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), in 2010 Affinion used their
telemarketers to implement,
"high-pressure sales tactics and made
materially false, deceptive, or otherwise misleading oral statements
relating to the cost, coverage terms, benefits, and other features
to sell products to Capital One customers."
Shockingly, BoA and Citigroup were,
"listed among the top six Affinion clients in that company's
USB was given until December 25th "to
come up with a reimbursement plan."