Major Bank Slapped with $9.65 Million Fine for Deceptive Practices, Incurring Hidden Fees and Interest on 186,000 Accounts

A financial institution boasting approximately $670 billion in total assets will face a substantial financial penalty after confessing to a long-standing practice of deceiving credit card holders.

"The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) will pay a fine of $15 million AUD, equivalent to approximately $9.65 million USD. This decision comes after the Federal Court in Australia found ANZ in violation of the ASIC Act and the National Consumer Credit Protection Act.

ASIC reported that ANZ had provided false information to its customers, suggesting that they could access cash advances from their 'Available Funds' without incurring fees or interest charges. However, the court revealed that ANZ displayed a higher available amount than what was genuinely accessible for withdrawal. This misrepresentation led customers to believe they could obtain fee-free and interest-free cash advances from their 'Available Funds.'

ANZ was found to have wrongfully imposed fees and interest on over 186,000 accounts in connection with cash advances. In some instances, individual customers were charged substantial fees by the lender.

Additionally, the court determined that ANZ had not acted 'efficiently, honestly, and fairly' by failing to promptly address the issue.

Sarah Court, Deputy Chair of ASIC, commented on the matter, stating, 'Customers deserve clear and accurate information about available funds in their accounts and what fees and charges may be applied. Many ANZ customers relied on the account information displayed by the bank and were charged fees that were inconsistent with that information... These are errors that we expect a bank to be aware of and fix in a timely manner. It should not have taken ANZ several years to address this issue.'

In addition to the $15 million AUD fine, ANZ will provide remediation payments totaling $8.3 million AUD, or approximately $5.34 million USD, to customers who incurred interest and charges for their cash advances between May 2016 and November 2018."

Oct 01, 2023

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