Bureau issues warning about ‘pay-by-phone’ fees

Concerned about financial services and other companies that are “tricking consumers” into paying expensive fees for remitting by phone, the CFPB issued a warning today about charging the fees. The bureau also issued guidance that the it says will assist in compliance with the law.

“The Bureau is warning companies about tricking consumers into more expensive fees when they pay bills by phone,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “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.”

The bureau provided two examples of “harmful practices” regarding pay-by-phone fees:

  • Misleading consumers about pay-by-phone fees, which the bureau said can result in consumers incurring charges for services they don’t need.
  • Keeping consumers “in the dark” about much cheaper payment options, which results when the companies do not disclose their fees in writing upfront to consumers, and when phone representatives fail to inform consumers about “significant price differences between available pay-by-phone options.”

The bureau recommended that financial services companies review state and federal laws to confirm the companies may charge pay-by-phone fees, and to “review their policies and procedures,” including reviewing consumer complaints about fees that are charged.

CFPB Compliance Bulletin 2017-01: Phone Pay Fees