The sign on I-95 at the North Carolina border tells southbound motorists they are entering the “Nation’s most military friendly state.”
That may be true, but it doesn’t seem to apply to Charlotte-based Bank of America. The bank recently paid a $30 million penalty and agreed to pay remediation to 73,000 military customers to settle charges that it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which protects active-duty military personnel from abusive lending and collection practices. In this case, Bank of America was cited for improper debt collection and violations of consumer protection laws.
Now Bank of America faces allegations of excessive interest charges in a federal lawsuit filed last week by three male Iraq veterans and their spouses, including a couple from Raleigh. The class-action suit claims that the bank violated the SCRA by charging active-duty military members interest on credit cards and other debt in excess of the 6 percent cap set by the law. The suit claims the bank continued to charge an illegally high rate even after being notified of the plaintiffs’ active-duty status.
The lawsuit is the latest instance of Bank of America’s running up against the SCRA. In 2013, it paid $36.8 million to military members whose homes were improperly foreclosed upon from 2006 to 2010.
Bank of America is one of several big banks that have settled charges related to mistreatment of customers in the military. But that other banks did it hardly reduces Bank of America’s offense. When a bank uses “America” in its name, features the flag on its signs and is headquartered in the most military-friendly state, it should be especially aware of treating its customers right when they are off serving the nation.
After all, consider who paid for that “military friendly” sign on I-95 – North Carolina’s banks and savings associations.