If you lost your job during the pandemic and have an account at U.S. Bank, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) could have some good news for you.
It appears that U.S. Bank mishandled tens of thousands of accounts that received direct deposits of unemployment checks during the COVID-19 shutdown, freezing many of these accounts and failing to provide provisional account credits.
As a consequence, the CFPB has mandated that U.S. Bank pay nearly $21 million for preventing unemployed individuals from accessing their unemployment benefits, with $5.7 million directly allocated to consumers adversely affected by these actions.
In addition, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has imposed a $15 million fine on United States Bank after a coordinated investigation.
According to the order, “Affected Consumers” include those who, from August 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021:
- Qualified for and received government unemployment insurance benefit payments electronically through ReliaCard Prepaid Debit Cards.
- Had their ReliaCard Prepaid Debit Card Accounts frozen by U.S. Bank.
- Faced U.S. Bank’s failure to provide adequate means to verify their identities and timely regain access to their government benefits.
- Had their unemployment insurance benefit payments not returned to a state due to the state’s decision that the consumer should have been initially disqualified for unemployment insurance benefit payments.
The CFPB notes that U.S. Bank will calculate the lump sum Consequential Harm payment and evaluate affected consumers for extra or supplementary redress compensation based on evidence of financial harm exceeding consequential harm-related payments.
This means that impacted consumers might receive more than just the amount of the unemployment benefit checks in question.
Once U.S. Bank addresses these matters, it is obligated to send payments to the affected individuals. If you have relocated since 2021 or are no longer a bank customer, it is advisable to contact U.S. Bank’s legal department to ensure that the check is sent to your correct address.
In a statement, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra noted: “At a time when unemployment was close to 15%, many out-of-work Americans throughout the country had little choice but to rely on U.S. Bank for their unemployment benefits. U.S. Bank blocked access to accounts and demanded burdensome paperwork in order for consumers to regain access to their frozen benefits. U.S. Bank must comply with the law, and the CFPB and OCC are making the bank pay for its conduct.”