Citizens Bank to pay $9 million penalty over credit card practices -US regulator

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) -Citizens Bank, one of the largest U.S. regional banks, will pay a $9 million civil penalty to resolve charges it mismanaged customers' credit card disputes and fraud claims, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Tuesday.

The regulator had accused the Citizens Financial Group Inc unit of violating the federal Truth in Lending Act by making customers "jump through unnecessary and burdensome hoops" to resolve billing errors and claims of unauthorized card use.

Citizens Bank was also accused of failing to acknowledge when billing error notices were received and in some cases denied, or disclose required credit counseling information to customers on a toll-free number.

The bank neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle.

Tuesday's settlement resolves a CFPB lawsuit filed in January 2020, and requires approval by a federal judge in Providence, Rhode Island, where Citizens is based.

The bank agreed to improve its credit card practices, including by providing refunds on valid claims, and not requiring customers with complaints to sign fraud affidavits.

Citizens ended March with $222.3 billion of assets. It operates about 1,100 branches and 3,400 ATMs in 14 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

In a statement, the bank said it had in 2015 identified errors that affected "a very small subset" of card customers, who have been made whole.

"While Citizens continues to disagree with the CFPB's stance," General Counsel Polly Klane said, "we are pleased to put this matter behind us."

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Editing by Nick Zieminski)