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Are you owed a slice of the $100 million fine Bank of America has to pay?

<i>Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images</i><br/>A Bank of America branch in the Brooklyn borough of New York
Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images
A Bank of America branch in the Brooklyn borough of New York

By Elisabeth Buchwald, CNN

New York (CNN) — Bank of America was fined $250 million this week by US federal regulators for allegedly harming customers by double-dipping on fees, withholding credit card rewards and opening fake accounts.

Of those fines, $100 million is set to go directly to consumers who were impacted by the bank’s alleged wrongdoing.

Some customers have already been compensated, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the two government agencies that investigated Bank of America’s practices. But others may be waiting a while before they get the slice of money they’re owed.

How to find out if you’re owed money

If an account was fraudulently opened in your name, it would appear on your bank statements or credit report, the CFPB told CNN. Both records should list the bank accounts and credit cards you’ve opened. If you see one you don’t recognize from Bank of America and have no record of opening it, there’s a chance it could be fraudulent.

Bank of America’s alleged wrongdoing dates back to at least 2012, according to the CFPB. That means customers could have had an unauthorized account open for over a decade.

People are generally bad at keeping or knowing how to access relatively recent bank records, said Harvey Rosenfield, founder of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. It’s unlikely the average customer saved copies of their bank records or credit reports for over a decade, he said.

Some of these records could be accessed online, but it gets dicey, especially if you switched from Bank of America to another bank over the past decade or if the customer affected has since passed away, said Rosenfield.

That’s why he recommends calling Bank of America’s customer service line directly and asking if you were a victim. The CFPB also told CNN that later this month Bank of America will identify a point of contact for these inquiries that will be posted on the CFPB site.

As part of the agreement Bank of America settled with the CFPB, it is also required to identify consumers who were harmed. But the CFPB did not provide CNN with a timeline of when the bank will be required to do so.

Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest bank, did not respond to CNN’s request for comment regarding how its customers can find out if they were a victim of its alleged wrongdoing.

Some customers have already been compensated

People who allegedly didn’t get the credit card reward bonuses they were owed have been compensated, the CFPB said, without specifying an amount.

Bank of America will be automatically refunding around $80.4 million in redress to people who were double-charged the $35 non-sufficient funds or overdraft fees since September 2018, the CFPB said. The bank will either put funds into their deposit accounts or will mail checks.

When will you get the money?

The CFPB didn’t provide an estimation of when all affected customers or former customers will be compensated. So it could be a while.

The CFPB said, however, it will be monitoring the bank’s progress and will require audits and other reporting by Bank of America to show the required funds were paid out.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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