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CFPB Warns Companies against Expensive Pay-by-Phone Fees
On Monday, July 31, 2017, the CFPB issued a bulletin warning companies about tricking consumers into expensive pay-by-phone fees. The Bureau expressed concerned about companies potentially misleading consumers about the purpose and amount of certain pay-by-phone fees or keeping them in the dark about much cheaper payment options. The bulletin also reviews guidelines to help consumer financial companies comply with the law.
“The Bureau is warning companies about tricking consumers into more expensive fees when they pay bills by phone,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We are concerned that companies are misleading consumers about pay-by-phone fees or keeping them in the dark about much cheaper or no-cost payment options.”
Most financial service companies give consumers several options to make payments. Some consumers may choose to pay bills by phone using an automated system or speaking with a live customer representative. Companies may charge different pay-by-phone fees depending on what method of payment the consumer uses, such as payment by electronic check, debit card, or credit card. Consumers may also be charged an additional fee to expedite phone payments, though many companies offer consumers no-fee or lower-fee pay-by-phone options that post after a delay. In its supervision and enforcement activities, the Bureau identified harmful practices regarding pay-by-phone fees such as misleading consumers about pay-by-phone fees and keeping consumers in the dark about cheaper payment options.