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August 24, 2017

Amex to settle discriminatory card terms in Puerto Rico and US territories

American Express (Amex) agreed with the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to resolve issues related to a previously disclosed internal review of its card product offerings in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands (PRVI) and the Pacific Territories.

The federal regulators accused two banking subsidiaries of Amex including American Express Centurion Bank and American Express Bank, FSB for using discriminatory practices, including charging higher interest rates, imposing stricter credit cutoffs, and providing less debt forgiveness.

Additionally, Amex also discriminated against certain consumers with Spanish-language preferences, according to CFPB.

Amex said that the discrepancy was discovered during an internal review and reported to the CFPB in 2013; however, the company did not agree with the CFPB’s contention that it had discriminated against clients.

During the period between 2013 and 2016, Amex paid $96m to over 200,000 credit card customers in Puerto Rico and other US territories. However, the latest consent order requires Amex to pay additionally $1m to fully compensate harmed consumers.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said: “Consumer financial protections are not confined within the 50 states.

“American Express discriminated against consumers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories by providing them with less-favorable financial products and services.

“They have ceased this practice and are making consumers whole. In particular, because they self-reported the problem and fully cooperated with our investigation, no civil penalties are being assessed in this matter.”

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