World
3 Ways Citibank Misled US Consumers
Citibank's shady credit card practices leads to $700 million in customer refunds
 
Documenting misdeeds that go back to 2000, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced last Tuesday that Citibank, N.A. and its subsidiaries must compensate more than eight million consumer accounts to the tune of $700 million for illegal practices related to credit card add-on products and services. In addition, because Citibank was so darn naughty, it is also required to pay $35 million in civil penalties to the CFPB and an additional $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for a grand total of $770 million. 
 
As told by the CFPB in its 57-page Consent Order, Citibank marketed a variety of credit card add-on products to consumers nationwide, including debt protection, credit monitoring, credit report retrieval services, and a wallet-protection service. With these services, Citibank engaged in lies, deception and misstatements, according to the bureau. Below are the three main ways that Citibank screwed consumers for more than a decade:
 
1. Deceptive marketing – Citibank’s misleading marketing practices affected about 4.8 million consumer accounts and included misrepresenting costs and fees for coverage, misrepresenting product benefits and eligibility for coverage. The bank also engaged in illegal practices in the enrollment process.
 
2. Unfair billing practices – From at least 2000 through 2013, Citibank improperly billed two million consumer accounts for product fees while not providing the full product services.
 
3. Deceptive collection practices – Citibank also misled close to two million consumers when collecting payments on delinquent retailer-affiliated credit card accounts by charging — but not disclosing– a $14.95 fee for expedited payment. Citibank encouraged consumers to use this expedited payment method even though it was rarely in consumers’ best interest.
 
Consumers who are eligible for a refund do not have to take any action. The bank has already reimbursed consumers who were victims of the unfair billing practices related to the credit-monitoring products and it is required to identify and reimburse other eligible consumers.
 
So look for a credit on your account, or a check in the mail from Citibank. And ask for all the fine print relating to additional credit card services a bank is trying to sell you.
 
For more on banks that have gotten in hot water over credit card practices, click here
 

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COMMENTS

Sudheer M

1 year ago

In India also, they are not far behind in handling responses. My wife got a credit limit increase, which she accepted. They told they never received such mail. We raised a complaint and got a complaint number, they say that they can't trace that complaint number. Not sure what policy of data handling and mail handling they have.

Senator to Red Cross: Where’s the Transparency on Haiti?
“I still have a lot more questions for the Red Cross,” said Sen. Charles Grassley
 
The American Red Cross met a deadline this week to answer congressional questions about how it spent nearly half a billion dollars donated after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, but the group says details can't yet be released publicly.
 
And the senator who posed the questions is not satisfied.
 
"I still have a lot more questions for the Red Cross," said Sen. Charles Grassley in a statement. "I have other questions about the spending numbers and how they add up and the overhead costs for both the Red Cross and the grantee organizations. Also, I'd like to see more details of the results achieved from each of the partner organizations."
 
After taking out a slice for overhead, the Red Cross passed on much of the donated money to nearly 50 other aid groups to do the actual work in Haiti. The Red Cross gave details to Grassley about that money, but it asked the senator not to release the information.
 
The group told the Iowa Republican that its contracts with other groups do "not permit us to disclose the information to the media or donors."
 
Grassley questioned that arrangement.
 
"It's unclear why the Red Cross enters into contracts with other organizations stipulating that details of grants can't be disclosed to the media or donors," said Grassley in his statement. "Who's driving the lack of disclosure, the Red Cross or the grant recipients? What's the rationale for it? It's hard to see how disclosing the dollar amounts given from the Red Cross to the individual organizations and how those organizations spent the money would harm anyone. I look forward to an explanation."
 
The Red Cross did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It's not clear when or if the other groups will give permission for the information to be released. (Here is a copy of the letter the Red Cross sent this month to one of the groups seeking permission.)
 
The senator's office did release 12 of the 72 pages the Red Cross provided in response to Grassley's questions. The responses released so far contain few new details about the Haiti program.
 
Among the responses:
Asked how many permanent homes the Red Cross built, the group did not provide a number. We've reported the Red Cross built a total of six homes
 

"Your question asks how many permanent homes have been 'built,' but providing permanent homes can be achieved in a number of ways including repair, retrofitting, rental subsidy, and transitional shelters," the Red Cross said in its response to Grassley.

 
It's not clear why the group considers a "transitional shelter" to be providing a permanent home.
 
The group did provide Grassley with a topline breakdown of its shelter spending.
Asked what CEO McGovern meant when she floated in an email a "wonderful helicopter idea" for spending Haiti money, the Red Cross said: "We do not recall what was meant when that was written." 
 
The group gave a bit more explanation on how the Red Cross counts "beneficiaries" of its work in Haiti. The Red Cross letter states that beneficiaries could be anyone from people who received a handout of soap to those who got construction training. It also states that the Red Cross is "conservative and reliable in reporting even if it means under-reporting our impact." 
 
But as we have previously reported, internal Red Cross assessments have concluded that the group sometimes overcounts how many people it helps. One internal report on a health project called the beneficiary count "fairly meaningless." 
 
The Red Cross said that when it gave money to other groups to do projects, it kept close track of how money was spent. "After grant awards are made, American Red Cross requires, per our agreements, careful reviews of financial and narrative reporting, detailing how partners spend our funds." 
 
That is at odds with internal assessments of some of the group's projects that found "no correct process for monitoring project spending." In the case of $10 million for cholera projects, one of the assessments found that oversight was so poor that… Continue Reading…
 
Courtesy: ProPublica
 

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A Doctor’s Will
Some of our unlettered, but wise, villagers live up to 100 years without any medical check-up 
 
Doctors and their patients are alike in all respects: except their attitude towards modern medical interventions. While 90%of dying patients in America get their last rites while still alive in the intensive care units (ICUs), a meagre 5% doctors ask for those futile terminal rites. Why this wide variation? Doctors don’t want to die: they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits. And they know enough about death to know what all people fear most: dying in pain and dying alone. They’ve talked of this with their families. And they want to be sure, when the time comes, that no ‘heroic’ measures will happen; that they will never experience—during their last moments on earth—someone breaking their ribs in an attempt to revive them with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (that’s what happens if CPR is done right), writes Ken Murray, a retired family physician, who himself has written his ‘living will’.
 
The hapless patients and their relatives are told that without ICU admission they have very little hope to live. Patients believe that doctors are capable of pulling out the dying even from the ‘jaws of death’. The relatives feel guilty if they do not agree. So the business goes on; over 90% of hospitals’ profits come from keeping dying patients in the ICUs. Time was when most patients who went to the hospital went to the grave. Have we not come back to the same state again with all our hi-tech stuff?
 
The other area where doctors and their patients are treated differently is in the area of regular check-ups. A few decades ago, there was a study in the US of doctors’ families and the general public’s incidence of screening. While everyone was asked to have these check-ups for their good, doctors and their near and dear ones were hardly screened! The screening industry is another big money spinner for the good of the profession but certainly not for patients. Some doctors had not had a check-up all their lives!
 
What surprised me is the story of a doctor who went to a cardiologist and asked for an angiogram as he had reached 60 years and would have coronary blocks; and, if they were there, they need to be bypassed. Of course, even children will have those intra-luminal blocks which are just band-aid processes. This brilliant doctor got his bypass done, thinking that it will cure coronary artery disease. And he also thinks that bypass surgery is the best preventive. Both beliefs are not based on scientific facts. The reality is that some of our unlettered, but wise, villagers live to be hundred without having had any check-up. 
 
When doctors fall ill, they want the best and compassionate physician to look after them. Patients feel the pinch of the enormous cost of medicines and investigations while the sick doctor gets away with free consultation, free medicines and even free laboratory tests! Therefore, doctors do not realise the pharmaco-economic burden on their patients while prescribing drugs and surgery for their own benefit and that of their benefactors—the drug and device lobbies. In conclusion, one soon realises that doctors are on a different pedestal when it comes illnesses. Dr Ken Murray, referred to earlier, had done a survey that showed that most doctors do not want to die in a hospital’s hostile ICU while they send every patient in an emergency to the ICU with some silly excuse. Do these ICUs save extra lives? That is a million dollar question—million dollar benefit for the hospitals and doctors. 
 
God save mankind! 
 
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)

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COMMENTS

Narendra Doshi

1 year ago

As usual, so true.

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