American Express Bank charged $15 million penalty for ‘reckless actions’ to regain small-biz customers

A $15 million civil money penalty (CMP) was assessed against a bank owned by one of the nation’s largest credit card companies, the regulator of national banks announced Tuesday.

The fine, assessed in a consent order against American Express National Bank, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said, was for failure to govern and oversee a third-party affiliate and for violations of regulations relating to certain efforts to retain small-business customers.

The violations occurred between 2015-17, and were, according to the agency’s findings, a part of “large-scale efforts to regain small business customers.”

“The OCC found that American Express failed to ensure that its third-party affiliate had appropriate call monitoring controls and appropriate mechanisms to document and track customer complaints,” the agency said in a release. “Additionally, American Express failed to collect necessary consumer information and properly maintain and produce records to show compliance with Customer Identification Program (CIP) regulations.”

The OCC, in its findings, also said the bank “recklessly engaged in unsafe or unsound practices” and that such actions were “part of a pattern of misconduct.”

The penalty, the agency said, has already been paid by the bank. The order was signed Monday (July 24).

OCC Assesses $15 Million Civil Money Penalty Against American Express National Bank Related to Bank’s Governance and Oversight of Third-Party Affiliate