• American Express Will Pay $112.5 Million For Deceiving Customers

    The Associated Press reported on October 1, 2012, that American Express has agreed to pay $112.5 million in refunds and fines after a multiagency investigation of the company revealed the company “charged unlawful late fees and deceived customers to pressure them to pay off old debts or buy extra credit card services.” In addition to $27.5 million in civil fines, American Express will refund $85 million to about 250,000 customers.

    The settlements were announced by four federal agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions.  The AP reported that the agencies said American Express violated federal laws prohibiting deceptive practices by using false statements to get customers to settle old debts, including falsely telling customers that remaining balances would be forgiven if they agreed to settlements to partially pay off their debts.

    CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement that American Express violated consumer protection laws “at all stages of the game – from the moment a consumer shopped for a card to the moment the consumer got a phone call about long overdue debt,” according to the AP. The company charged late fees on some credit cards based on a percentage of the debt owed, unlawfully discriminated against consumers applying for new card accounts on the basis of age and failed to report customer disputes over billing to the consumer credit reporting agencies.

    This news will certainly be welcome for the many victims of American Express’ unethical practices. If you are currently dealing with calls from creditors and struggling to make monthly payments, you can get relief from substantial credit card debt by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . You may be able discharge your unsecured debt in Chapter 7 , or you could pay back a fraction of what you owe through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. To see how our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help, fill out the form on this page or contact our firm today at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • High Costs of Getting Well Leaves Millions Worried Sick About Medical Bills

    As we mentioned on Wednesday, staggering health care costs continue to be one of the leading reasons that many Americans file bankruptcy. Because anybody can get sick, medical bills affect people all of age groups.

    The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch reported on September 17, 2012, that a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that health care costs in the last five years of an individual’s life can be much bigger than most people anticipate. The report said average out-of-pocket expenditures for Medicare beneficiaries in the five years prior to death were $38,688 for individuals and $51,030 for couples in which one spouse dies.  Additionally, MarketWatch also reported that more than three-quarters of households spent at least $10,000 in that five-year period, and 11 percent of single and 9 percent of married households spent more than $100,000.

    Just as medical costs affect people in the later years of life, they also create a substantial burden for families who are bringing new ones into the world. Reuters reported on September 18, 2012, that out-of-pocket expenses for labor and delivery increased 74 percent between 2004 and 2009. Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey showed mothers paid an average $1,148 out of pocket in 2009 after averaging $661 five years prior.

    Reuters reported that 26-year-old Lindsay Durrenberger said her Blue Cross Blue Shield plan covered most of her $8,000 in birthing expenses, but “she was surprised that opting for an epidural meant she paid $550 for the out-of-pocket cost to the anesthesiologist.” She was also billed $200 for two pediatrician visits while in the hospital and $400 for her son’s circumcision. Durrenberger told Reuters that she expects to pay $1349 out-of-pocket for the birth.

    “At this point, it’s kind of nerve-wracking,” Durrenberger told Reuters. “I’m still waiting for the bomb to drop.”

    If your family is struggling to pay medical bills, you may be able to eliminate that debt by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy or you could significantly reduce the amount you owe by filing Chapter 13 . If you want to know what options you have, complete the form on this page to have our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys review your case or take action now by contacting our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers