Back in January, American Banker reported that JP Morgan Chase — the nation’s biggest bank — was potentially robo-signing credit card documents. Robo-signing, of course, is the pernicious practice banks used to approve foreclosures without verifying basic information about borrowers or complying with property law.
Today, American Banker is back with allegations from former JP Morgan employees that the bank did indeed robo-sign documents when suing delinquent credit card borrowers, enabling it to run up its credit card collections into the billions of dollars, while short-circuiting the legal process:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. took procedural shortcuts and used faulty account records in suing tens of thousands of delinquent credit card borrowers for at least two years, current and former employees say. [...]
“We did not verify a single one” of the affidavits attesting to the amounts Chase was seeking to collect, says Howard Hardin, who oversaw a team handling tens of thousands of Chase debt files in San Antonio. “We were told [by superiors] ‘We’re in a hurry. Go ahead and sign them.‘”
In many instances, the records of the firms that JP Morgan had contracted with to handle the documents did not match the records that the bank itself had, but the lawsuits against borrowers went ahead anyway. Some firms’ records didn’t match the banks in 20 percent of cases. In many instances, a whistleblower alleged, the bank was claiming borrowers had much more debt than they actually had.
Two former employees also allege that the bank directly destroyed borrowers’ records. “I understand there were documents trashed, yes,” one said. An internal Chase document also shows that borrowers’ correspondence with the bank was being dumped onto an unmanned desk and left unanswered.
Last year, a former JP Morgan Chase employee candidly admitted that commercial bankers see customers simply as people to be “exploited” via fees. “I don’t say this lightly, but the consumer is simply an income stream and exploiting that is the purpose of the banking organization,” he added. And when it comes to collecting on credit card debt, it seems there are no lengths to which the bank will not go, legal or not, to make sure it gets paid.