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Fleet Mortgage Sued by Minnesota Attorney General

Fleet Mortgage Sued by Minnesota Attorney General...

December 29, 2000
The Minnesota Attorney General has sued FleetBoston Financial, charging that its mortgage group has illegally given information about mortgage holders to telemarketers. Attorney General Michael Hatch called the practice "sleazy" and "over the line," according to The Wall Street Journal.

The suit charges that Fleet not only divulged confidential information about its customers but also allowed the telemarketers to bill charges to the customer's mortgage account without the customer's consent.

Fleet denied the charges and said it would "vigorously" defend itself.

One of the alleged victims is a Minnesota state representative, Loren Jennings of Rush City, MN. He said that when a telemarketer called him in 1999 selling insurance coverage for household appliances, he told the caller repeatedly that he did not want the service.

But later Jennings said he found a $20 per month charge on his Fleet mortgage bill.

The Fleet case follows a similar action against U.S. Bancorp. Last year the Minnesota Attorney General alleged that U.S. Bancorp had illegally disclosed customers' financial data. Additional states joined the action and the company eventually settled for $7.5 million.

Fleet also faces a consumer class action filed in October, accusing it of offering fixed-rate credit cards, then raising the rate without notice.

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Providian Settles Consumer Class Action Suits

Providian Financial has agreed to pay $105 million to settle a cluster of class-action suits that accused it of unlawful business practices in its sale of ...

December 29, 2000
Providian Financial has agreed to pay $105 million to settle a cluster of class-action suits that accused it of unlawful business practices in its sale of such add-on products as credit protection and credit-line increases to its credit card customers.

The proposed settlement covers dozens of suits against Providian since mid-1999. It follows nine months of mediation.

Attorney Robert Green said Providian's "aggressive" sales tactics for such products as price-protection plans often confused consumers and led them to agree to services they did not want and did not know how to use.

Up to three million customers could be eligible for reimbursemenets under the settlement. The company said customers would receive information about the settlement by the spring of 2001, assuming it receives court approval.

While Providian did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement plan, it did issue a statement saying it hopes its many consumer disputes are history and pledged to cleaning up its marketing and customer service procedures.

It's not the first time Providian has seen the inside of the courtroom. In June 2000 the company agreed to repay consumers $300 million in a lawsuit filed by the San Francisco District Attorney and an administrative action by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (story).

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