WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHNT) — Regions Bank has been ordered to refund at least $141 million to customers as part of a settlement with a federal consumer protection agency after it was discovered they were charging illegal surprise overdraft fees.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ordered the Birmingham-based bank not just to pay back its customers, but a $50 million penalty toward the CFBP’s victims relief fund.
Between August 2018 through July 2021, the CFPB says Regions charged its customers surprise overdraft fees known as an “authorized-positive” fee on certain ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases.
In the announcement made on Wednesday, the organization says that the bank was charging overdraft fees “even after telling consumers they had sufficient funds at the time of the transactions.”
“Regions Bank raked in tens of millions of dollars in surprise overdraft fees every year, even after its own staff warned that the bank’s practices were illegal,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra.
Regions said in a statement that it disagrees with the bureau’s characterizations of the fees, cooperated with the investigation, and “is pleased to move forward,” adding that the fees only impacted a “small percentage” of customers.
The CFPB says that due to the bank’s “unintelligible and manipulative process,” even people who closely monitored their accounts couldn’t avoid the fees, and even the bank’s employees “could not explain to customers why they incurred the overdraft fees.”
In 2015, a similar situation happened where the CFPB ordered Regions to refund $49 million to consumers and pay a $7.5 million penalty. According to the bureau, the bank charged overdraft fees to consumers who had not opted into overdraft protection, and costs to consumers who had been told they wouldn’t be charged any overdraft fees.
Customers can submit questions or complaints on the CFPB’s website here, or call (855) 411-CFPB (2372).