|Table of Contents
Criticizes Chevy Chase Bank
by Marcy Gordon
from Mr. Ralph Nader
A Letter to CCB President/CEO
BF Saul from Mr. Ralph Nader
in Their Own Words
July 28, 2006
TLPJ, Chevy Chase Bank Settle Class
Action Over Interest Charges to Credit Cardholders
Bank To Pay $16.1 Million and To Remove Negative Information from Consumersí Credit
Chevy Chase Bank, F.S.B., has agreed to pay
$16.1 million and to remove negative information from consumersí credit records to
settle a nationwide class action lawsuit brought by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
on behalf of credit cardholders who alleged they were being charged excessive interest
rates. The settlement agreement in Wells v. Chevy Chase Bank, F.S.B., which Baltimore
City Circuit Court Judge John Glynn preliminarily
approved on July 26, 2006, ends a long-running
class action over allegations that the bank breached its contracts with consumers
by raising interest rates above a promised 24 percent ceiling, and imposing new and
higher fees. Under the settlement, Chevy Chase has agreed to notify credit reporting
agencies not to list debts arising from the charges on consumersí credit records.
"We are gratified by this terrific result for thousands of banking consumers,"
said TLPJ Staff Attorney F. Paul Bland, Jr. "It has been a hard-fought, seven-year
case involving two victories in Marylandís high court, and we are extremely pleased
that Chevy Chase has done the right thing by consumers."
"Several consumers told us they were hassled by debt collectors, who were trying
to collect the alleged overcharge," Bland continued. "Others told us it
was hard to buy a house or car because the bank wrongly listed them as a bad debtor
on their credit report. We felt that getting the credit reports fixed was an important
part of the deal. Correcting these credit reports could turn out to be worth even
more to consumers than the cash."
TLPJ alleged that the bankís customer agreement provided that it would "never"
charge more than 24 percent interest, but the company did so anyway.
Chevy Chase Bank Settles
Credit Card Suit
By Chris Kirkham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 28, 2006
Chevy Chase Bank has settled a seven-year-old class-action lawsuit that could affect
hundreds of thousands of credit card holders who say they were charged late fees
and excessive interest rates that were not part of their agreements with the bank.
The bank agreed to pay $16.1 million and repair any damages to customers' credit
history. A court-appointed firm must now try to locate the customers, many of
whom have moved since the problems surfaced more than 10 years ago, according to
the settlement in Baltimore City Circuit Court.
The case involved Visa and MasterCard deals advertised by Chevy Chase in 1996 that
promised an interest-rate ceiling of 24 percent, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.
About 1 million customers, many of whom already had credit problems, applied for
the card, but some complained that their rates spiked to 30 percent.
The plaintiffs also charged that the bank imposed higher fees for late payments or
for going over a credit limit than were part of the initial agreement.
"The energy from actual consumers about his case was remarkable from a very
early stage," said Paul Bland, a staff attorney with District-based Trial Lawyers
for Public Justice, the group that represented the plaintiffs.
He said some customers are still having problems buying a car or house, and that
others still complain of being hassled by debt collectors. Payments to some consumers
could be in the thousands of dollars, Bland estimated.
Chevy Chase Bank did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday afternoon.
About a quarter of the $16 million settlement will go to attorney's fees, and another
$1 million is likely to go toward the cost of locating those affected by the charges.
The firm in charge of locating the customers will have access to Chevy Chase Bank
records, but it is up to customers to contact Poorman-Douglas Corp., the court-appointed
Bland said the group would be setting up a toll-free number and a Web site, but
he did not have details. Those who have a claim have 90 days to get in touch with
"There's a good chance for the consumer that even though they could get refunds,
we won't be able to get to them after all these years," Bland said.
Any money not distributed to plaintiffs will go to nonprofit groups chosen by the
plaintiffs' lawyers and Chevy Chase.
"There's so many barriers to getting the relief to customers," said Chi
Chi Wu, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, based in Boston,
which was an adviser on the case. "The fact that these cardholders are getting
any sort of cash in their pockets for this is pretty good."
The phone number for Poorman-Douglas is 800-547-4407
from The Washington Post, March 9, 2001
By Caroline K. Mayer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Maryland's highest court ruled unanimously yesterday that a group of credit card
customers could sue Chevy Chase Bank over its 1996 decision to increase its interest
rates above 24 percent after it promised it wouldn't.
The decision by the Court of Appeals of Maryland centered on an arbitration issue.
It said consumers did not waive their right to a trial when the bank sent out a "change
of terms" notice to cardholders saying all disputes would be resolved through
arbitration instead of the courts.
The consumers allege that the bank breached its promise that interest rates "will
never exceed 24 percent" -- the maximum rate permissible under Maryland law.
In January 1996, the bank relocated its home office to Virginia, where there are
no state limits on interest rates. It soon began raising its rates, charging some
consumers 27 percent or 28 percent, even on balances accrued before the company moved
to McLean, the suit said.
The bank tried to block the suit, citing the arbitration clause, and a local judge
in Baltimore agreed. But the high court struck down the provision because the arbitration
clause said the process would be started "at the request and expense of the
claiming party" -- something the cardholders didn't seek.
The case will now go back to a lower court, which will hear the breach of contract
dispute on the credit card interest rate.
The high court's narrowly crafted opinion affects only Maryland consumers and companies.
But lawyers on both sides of the issue said yesterday that they expect it to be cited
in dozens of other cases around the country. Consumer advocates are challenging the
mandatory arbitration provisions now being written into many consumer contracts by
banks, auto dealers and retailers.
Businesses argue that arbitration provisions limiting a consumer's ability to file
suit help resolve disagreements faster and less expensively than the courts. Consumer
advocates say arbitration can cost consumers thousands of dollars and limit the gathering
of evidence that could give consumers a better chance of winning a case. Court opinions
have varied widely on these provisions.
Lawyers predict that consumer advocates will cite the Maryland ruling because the
court said federal arbitration law does not preempt Maryland law. Under federal law,
consumers usually cannot appeal a court arbitration order until a final decision
is issued in the case. But the Maryland court ruled that consumers can immediately
appeal a Maryland court order requiring arbitration -- as was done in the Chevy Chase
case -- even before the arbitration process has begun.
Paul Bland, an attorney for Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, which filed the case
on behalf of the Chevy Chase cardholders, hailed the decision as a "real victory
for cardholders who will now have their day in court instead of in an arbitration
process they never agreed to." Bland estimated that several hundred thousand
cardholders will be eligible to be part of a class-action suit.
Leslie A. Nicholson, executive vice president and general counsel for Chevy Chase
Bank, said that while the bank "respectfully disagrees with the court's narrow
reading of the arbitration clause, the bank continues to believe this matter will
be concluded in the bank's favor when the case returns to the trial court. The bank
complied with applicable federal and state laws in amending its cardholder agreements
in early 1996 and these amendments were not even challenged by the plaintiffs until
Alan Kaplinsky, a attorney in Philadelphia who represents several financial institutions,
said he was "disquieted" by the court's finding that the federal arbitration
provisions do not apply to appeals of state court arbitration rulings.
But he said he thought the ruling was a "nonevent" because its key argument
in striking down the arbitration provision would not apply to most such clauses.
Chevy Chase Bank had sold its credit card assets to First USA by the time the cardholder
suit was filed in 1999. But it contended that the dispute had to be resolved through
mandatory arbitration, as required by the agreement it sent to cardholders in early
The Circuit Court of Baltimore agreed, with Judge Joseph H. Kaplan ruling that the
arbitration clause "provides a fair and cost-efficient arena to solve problems
between the parties."
The case now returns to Kaplan's court.
for Public Justice has issued a press release announcing a lawsuit against Chevy
Chase Bank for raising its interest rates above 24% in violation of Maryland law.
This is a class action lawsuit to recover damages for all affected parties.
TLPJ Files National Credit Cardholder Class Action Against
Chevy Chase Bank
View Victim Survey results from 1998
Please join the
Chevy Chase Bank Blues Mailing List
This is the easiest way for you to keep informed of the latest up to the minute news,
plans, and happenings.
Join here at:
This is a grassroots effort to educate the public and garner support to bring a class
action suit against Chevy Chase Bank. This is also a common meeting ground to voice
your opinion on the way Chevy Chase Bank (CCB) unethically gouges CCB credit card
holders, by reporting false documentation to customers and raising the interest rates
retroactively to unregulated usuriously high fees.
We want our money back!
1. Create a database of your complaints (published on this web site) and build a
petition/names and contact info (please send your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org or call steve at 202-726-1554)
2. Media coverage
3. Bumper stickers "www.atomicweb.com/ChevyChaseBankSucks"
4. Picket CCB main branch (as core group grows)
5. Ask all your friends, family etc. about their CCB accounts. Actively seek more
unsatisfied CCB customers from our personal knowledge base (sign 'em up here)
7. Call CCB President B.F. Saul at 301-986-6064
and tell him you want your money back.
8. Class action lawsuit.
Associated Press Article
Chevy Chase Bank
By Marcy Gordon
Associated Press Business Writer
Tuesday, January 14, 1998; 3:49 a.m. EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Armed with an excellent credit history, Steve Chambers
says he and his wife, Lynn, were slow to notice the interest rate creeping up on
their credit cards from Chevy Chase Bank.
When the rate hit 26.7 percent last fall, up from less than 10 percent about five
years ago, Chambers did notice and decided enough was enough, he recounted Tuesday.
Financial institutions ``are pushing the envelope to see what they can get away with,''
he said. ``Chevy Chase is kind of leading the way in greed.''
Chambers, 42, a District of Columbia resident who owns a small graphic design business
with his wife, says that when he called people at Chevy Chase to ask about the high
rates, he was told they were linked to unspecified information on the couple's credit
reports. But when he ordered fresh copies of the reports, he verified that they were
topnotch, he says.
Chambers eventually prevailed and was offered a 10 percent rate for a year, but he
still is seeking the thousands of dollars in back interest payments he says is owed
The case was among several that came to the attention of Ralph Nader, who criticized
Chevy Chase -- which issues credit cards nationally -- on Tuesday for charging "outrageously
high" interest of 25 percent to 27.5 percent on certain credit card accounts.
The consumer activist said he had received complaints from customers paying those
rates who insisted they had never missed a monthly payment, never paid late and were
paying more than the monthly minimum on their credit card balances.
"The interest rates that Chevy Chase Bank is assessing are outrageously high,''
Nader wrote in a letter to the institution's chairman and chief executive officer,
B.F. Saul II. "It appears that (the institution) is assessing outrageous interest
rates on cardholders in good standing to recoup the bank's losses from cardholders
Spokesmen for the thrift institution, based in Chevy Chase, Md., didn't return telephone
calls seeking comment.
While other banks and S&Ls charge interest rates on credit cards approaching
25 percent for customers they consider to be bigger credit risks, Nader singled out
Chevy Chase because its top rate of 27.5 percent was the highest he had seen, said
spokesman Todd Larsen.
James Chessen, chief economist for the American Bankers Association, acknowledged
that financial institutions ``have tried to tier their (credit card rates) based
on credit risk.'
He added, however, that consumers -- even those with poor credit records -- have
"a lot of choices'' among the different terms offered by nearly 6,000 credit
card lenders around the country.
Chevy Chase Bank, classified as a savings and loan by federal regulators, ranked
22nd in the nation with $6.2 billion in assets as of June 30, according to Bert Ely,
a banking industry analyst based in Alexandria, Va.
A Press Release
from Mr. Ralph Nader
For Immediate Release
Contact: Todd Larsen (202) 387-8034
January 13, 1998
NADER CHALLENGES CHEVY CHASE BANK'S AVARICIOUS INTEREST
RATES ON CREDIT CARDHOLDERS
In a letter to B.F. Saul, CEO of Chevy Chase Bank, consumer advocate Ralph Nader
challenged the bank's assessment of interest rates between 25% and 27.5% on select
credit card holders. Nader criticized the high interest rates as being unjustifiable
under any circumstances, and asked B.F. Saul, "How can you and Chevy Chase Bank,
in good conscience, assess these outrageous rates upon cardholders?"
Nader also criticized the rationale given by Chevy Chase Bank for raising cardholder
rates and the manner in which higher rates are assessed.
- Chevy Chase Bank has told affected cardholders that their interest rate increases
are based on information in their credit reports. However, cardholders who called
Chevy Chase Bank and made inquiries regarding the bank's justification for increasing
their interest rate have not received a legitimate justification for an increase,
nor were their rates lowered. Nader states, "your bank labels cardholders as
"high risk" based on unspecified criteria. How can cardholders challenge
an action that is based on secret criteria?"
- Cardholders who have complained to Nader about Chevy Chase Bank's interest rate
practices never missed a payment, never paid late and were even paying more than
the monthly minimum on their balance.
- Several cardholders state that they did not receive notice of the change in interest
rates, or received notice after the rates went into affect.
Nader comments that "contrary to Chevy Chase Bank's assertions, these cardholders
are not credit risks, they are goldmines for Chevy Chase Bank to plunder."
It appears that the real explanation for Chevy Chase Bank's increasing interest rates
does not lie with the affected consumers but with the bank's own mismanagement. Nader
noted that Chevy Chase Bank has recently experienced a high rate of charge-offs on
its credit card accounts and subsequent declines in its profitability. Office of
Thrift Supervision data reveal that Chevy Chase Bank's year-to-date charge-offs as
of June 30, 1997 were 11.21%, compared to a charge-off rate of 4.99% for all institutions,
and that Chevy Chase Bank reported a net operating income to assets for the first
six months of 1997 of -.53. Nader stated, "it appears that Chevy Chase Bank
is assessing outrageous interest rates on cardholders in good standing to recoup
the bank's losses from cardholders who defaulted." Nader labeled the practice
as being unethical and noted that the losses experienced by Chevy Chase Bank should
be born by investors.
Chevy Chase Bank is not the only institution to assess outrageous rates on its cardholders.
Advanta, Capital One Financial and Associates have also recently raised their rates
for cardholders who are considered to be a risk. While banks across the country are
raising their interest rates, Chevy Chase was the recipient of Nader's letter because
he encountered a number of complaints regarding the institution and Chevy Chase Bank's
interest rates are particularly high.
Nader urged Chevy Chase CEO B.F. Saul to discontinue the imposition of excessive
rates and encouraged B.F. Saul and Chevy Chase Bank to be the first bank to reverse
course and lower its rates to a more acceptable level. Nader states, "the public
will not tolerate the blatant profiteering of credit card issuing banks for long.
If banks do not curb their outrageous practices on their own, public pressure may
encourage Congress to cap interest rates for them."
Nader has long been concerned with overcharges and deceptive practices that appear
in bills consumers receive from financial institutions. His Bills Project, which
tracks error, fraud and deception in billing has uncovered deceptive billing practices
throughout the medical, financial, utility, retail and service industries. The Bills
Project has solicited bills from consumers across the country over the past ten years
and is currently producing a study of consumer misbilling to be issued soon.
A letter to B.F. Saul II
from Mr. Ralph Nader
January 8, 1998
B.F. Saul II
Chairman and CEO
Chevy Chase Bank
8401 Connecticut Ave.
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
Dear Mr. Saul:
It has come to my attention that Chevy Chase Bank has increased the interest rate
on certain credit card accounts to between 25% and 27.5%. Based on information provided
by affected cardholders (see attached stories), it appears these increases are assessed
on accounts in good standing, where the cardholders are making regular monthly payments
that often exceed the minimum required payment. The only "flaw" that Chevy
Chase Bank notes with each cardholder is unspecified information obtained from credit
reporting agencies. I am writing to you, as the Chairman and CEO of Chevy Chase Bank,
to urge you to end these anti-consumer practices.
The interest rates that Chevy Chase Bank is assessing are outrageously high. Regardless
of a consumer's credit history, it is avaricious to assess interest rates approaching
30% on credit card accounts. While consumers who sign up for a low initial rate (e.g.
5.9%) expect that their interest rate will increase after the promotional period
ends, no consumer would reasonably expect that their interest rate will rise above
25%. Indeed, Chevy Chase Bank advertises that it has some of the lowest credit card
interest rates around. Yet, Chevy Chase Bank has implemented a series of increases
on certain cardholders' accounts raising their rates from the single digits to the
teens and finally, into the high 20's. Since these excessive rates are applied to
the entire balance outstanding, affected cardholders are now paying over 25% on purchases
and cash advances that may have been made two or three years prior. This retroactive
application of high interest rates is duplicitous since cardholders would never create
a significant balance on their accounts if they knew from the beginning that they
would end up paying usurious interest rates.
While the high interest rates are inherently unfair, Chevy Chase Bank's rationale
for their imposition on particular cardholders is also suspect. Cardholders subject
to high interest rates are told that the interest rate increase is based on negative
information appearing in their credit reports. Yet, based on the information given
to us, cardholders who obtain copies of their reports do not find any negative information
(e.g. delinquencies or late payments) in them. In fact, several cardholders have
stated that Chevy Chase Bank consistently increased their credit limit or offered
them other forms of credit in addition to their credit cards. These cardholders were
obviously not considered to be "high risk" accounts when Chevy Chase Bank
extended greater credit. Yet, after the credit is extended, and cardholders create
a significant balance, they suddenly become a credit risk, triggering excessive interest
While Chevy Chase Bank may argue that some affected cardholders only became a credit
risk after Chevy Chase Bank extended credit to them, there still is no justification
for increasing interest rates excessively on these accounts. While the cardholders
with whom we have spoken do not appear to be at risk for defaulting on their payments
to Chevy Chase Bank, what sense would it make to charge a hypothetical "at-risk"
cardholder a greater amount per month? If a cardholder is barely able to make payments
at an interest rate of 20%, then raising their interest rate to 27% will surely cause
them to default.
In reality, the risk that affected cardholders seem to pose to Chevy Chase Bank is
that they might pay off their debt at a reasonable interest rate, and often, ahead
of schedule. Several cardholders have told us that they were making payments above
the minimum required each month in a deliberate effort to reduce their balance as
quickly as possible. They also stated that they had not made late payments nor had
they ever paid less than the minimum required in any given month. In addition, each
of the cardholders has maintained their account for several years and, prior to having
their interest rate increased to over 25%, was paying interest in the teens -- affording
Chevy Chase Bank an exceptional profit on the extension of credit.
In addition to being unfairly targeted for excessive interest rates, several cardholders
have stated that they were not properly notified of the increase in the interest
rate on their accounts. These cardholders state that they received notice of an interest
rate increase only after the change took place or that they never received notice
of the change in terms. In addition, the notices sent to customers are cryptic. A
typical example merely states, "The recent change to your Annual Percentage
Rate was based in part on information obtained from the below listed credit reporting
agency. We apologize for the delay in providing this information."
When cardholders have called customer service in an attempt to understand the increase
in their interest rates, they have been uniformly stonewalled by Chevy Chase Bank's
representatives. Each cardholder with whom we have spoken has stated that customer
service representatives at Chevy Chase Bank have been unable to point to a specific
problem with the cardholder's credit report that justifies a sharp increase in interest
rates. When these cardholders then reasonably request that their rates be lowered
back to a reasonable rate, they are met with various excuses why this cannot be done,
including the statement that "Chevy Chase Bank is not offering any "specials"
at this time." (Isn't it ironic that an interest rate below 18% is considered
"special" -- is 25%+ becoming the norm?). However, two cardholders who
wrote directly to you after experiencing frustration with customer service were rewarded
with significantly lower rates. Does the act of writing a letter of outrage to a
bank's CEO transform a cardholder from "credit risk" to "valued customer"?
While it appears that the credit histories of cardholders who receive interest rate
increases are sound (or at least devoid of any locatable problems), the financial
reports for your institution clearly demonstrate extensive mismanagement on the part
of your credit card division. Based on information supplied by Chevy Chase Bank to
the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), your institution is experiencing charge-offs
on credit card accounts that far exceed the industry average. OTS data reveal that
Chevy Chase Bank's year-to-date charge-offs as of June 30, 1997 were 11.21%, compared
to a charge-off rate of 4.99% for all institutions. OTS data also reveal that 2.38%
of Chevy Chase Bank's credit card accounts are noncurrent, compared to 1.92% for
all institutions. It also appears that these high rates of charge-offs have been
long in the making. A September 1996 prospectus filed by Chevy Chase Bank with the
SEC and OTS, reveals that credit card account delinquencies increased over the three-year
period of 1994-1996. Not surprisingly, Chevy Chase Bank reported a net operating
income to assets for the first six months of 1997 of -.53.
Of course, Chevy Chase Bank is not the only bank saddled with an unprofitable credit
card division. Other banks, notably Advanta, also extended credit to large numbers
of cardholders who subsequently defaulted. Advanta reported losses of $19.8 million
in the first quarter of 1997, owing to credit card non-performance. Advanta's solution
has been to shift the burden of its mismanagement onto the shoulders of its cardholders.
In its second quarter report for 1997, Advanta states, "the company repriced
roughly two-thirds of its customers... [to] better match customer risk profiles."
The result is that Advanta's more responsible cardholders are forced to pay for the
losses caused by those cardholders who defaulted. The strategy appears to be working,
as Advanta recently announced improvements in profitability for the third quarter
Similar to Advanta, it appears that Chevy Chase Bank is assessing outrageous interest
rates on cardholders in good standing to recoup the bank's losses from cardholders
who defaulted. Is it Chevy Chase Bank's strategy to target cardholders who are trying
to pay off their balances quickly? Is Chevy Chase Bank targeting cardholders with
substantial balances who will be a source of extensive profits? Whatever Chevy Chase
Bank's precise rational, it is unethical to force cardholders in good standing to
endure the burden of restoring Chevy Chase Bank's credit card division to profitability.
Clearly, it is the corporate management of Chevy Chase Bank that extended credit
unwisely to consumers who were unable to pay their debts, and the responsibility
for these losses rightly lie with the banks management and investors, not with cardholders.
In the end, Chevy Chase Bank's investors should be forced to accept the burdens of
unprofitability through reduced dividends, since they invested in Chevy Chase Bank
in the hopes of earning a profit on their investment, but with the full knowledge
that their investment might not pay off. Of course, investors who do not receive
a return on their investment might call for a change in management, while consumers
are not in a position to insist on new management when they are exploited.
It is also disturbing that this latest abridgment of consumers' rights follows so
closely on the Justice Department's 1994 consent decree with Chevy Chase Bank regarding
your institution's practice of redlining in the District of Columbia and Prince George's
County Maryland. As part of that decree, Chevy Chase Bank now issues credit to residents
in formerly redlined communities. Particularly, the decree notes that in making up
for past injustices, Chevy Chase Bank had begun issuing a large number of credit
cards in poor and minority neighborhoods, and specifically states: "Indeed,
Chevy Chase has the second highest market share in credit card lending to lower income
and minority groups of any lender in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area."
What proportion of these new credit card customers are now saddled with 25%+ interest
rates? Has Chevy Chase Bank reversed its history of redlining in poor and minority
neighborhoods only to assess outrageous rates on consumers it once deemed untouchable?
How can you and Chevy Chase Bank, in good conscience assess these outrageous rates
upon cardholders? Why are particular cardholders targeted for these excessive rates?
Thus far, cardholders have only heard that the increases are tied to their credit
reports -- no specific rationale is ever given. Do you think that it is fair to increase
interest rates any amount without providing a specific rationale? Finally, what do
you plan to do for affected cardholders?
In answering the above questions, I think that the only reasonable response by you
and Chevy Chase Bank is to end your practice of charging excessive interest rates,
return affected cardholders to a reasonable rate of interest and return the excessive
profit you have taken from these cardholders. Any other response will merely perpetuate
the harms Chevy Chase Bank has inflicted. Yours is not the only financial institution
to impose excessive rates, but Chevy Chase Bank can be the first bank to reverse
course and cap rates at a reasonable level.
Your response is welcomed.
Excerpts From Consumer Complaints Regarding Chevy Chase Bank
- One consumer had their interest rate increase from 20.9% in October 1997 to 26.7%
in December 1997. "like many other folks whose stories appear on your page,
I was told that something in my credit report had triggered the increase. I knew
that my credit report hadn't changed for the worse recently -- in fact, my total
outstanding credit has gone down about $1K during the past few months, and I recently
started increasing how much I was paying CCB per month. Maybe CCB is raising ALL
its customers' interest rates, but I wondered if they raised mine in response to
the higher payments I'd started sending them recently. God forbid I might actually
pay the card off, resulting in them losing me as a debt slave!"
- "I really thought I was the lone individual that Chevy Chase had targeted
with its inflated high interest rates...to make a long story short, Chevy Chase Bank
claims that after a recent review of my credit rating they find it necessary to increase
my interest rate. I have received at least two such letters and subsequent increases
during 1996. Despite the fact that I refinanced my home without a problem, Chevy
Chase Bank considers me a risk based on their unknown criteria assessed after a credit
rating review makes them believe that the likelihood of them getting paid is resolved
by charging customers excessive interest rates. (Is this sick thinking?)...I will
never understand how a bank can legally charge customers such a high interest rate
and get away with it. Chevy Chase is the biggest crook around.
They are stealing without a gun."
- "In the last couple of months my Chevy Chase credit card has increased the
interest rate to 25.5%. When asked why they raised the interest, they said because
of something that showed on my credit file. After researching my credit history I
discovered that I have no late payments and several credit accounts that are current.
I will be paying off my Chevy Chase account and will NEVER use Chevy Chase Bank for
any of my banking needs."
- "I have a Master Card account with Chevy Chase Bank. I am very dissatisfied
with their most recent action to increase my credit card interest rate, based on,
according to them, a recent credit report."
THE BILLS PROJECT
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 387-8034 Fax (202) 234-5176
Chase Bank Customers
--In Their Own Words--
From: Bruce Preudhomme <email@example.com>
Re:Nader Criticizes Chevy Chase Bank for High rates
Date: Saturday, January 17, 1998 2:33 PM
Title: Chevy Chase Bank Jumps States to Raise Rates
I read the article "Nader Criticizes Chevy Chase Bank for high rates" on
January 14, 1998. This article will help raise awareness and will get the word out.
Thank you for publishing that article and publishing this editorial. I am glad to
see that Mr. Nader is coming to the rescue of the thousands of Chevy Chase Bank customers
victimized by Chevy Chase Bank's "risk based pricing". My wife and I
are exactly what Mr. Nader describes as the typical customer who over night had their
interests jumped from 18% to 25.99% without warning and without justification.
We had paid our bills on time, usually paid more than the minimum, and have more
than enough income to easily afford the payments. We retrieved our credit bureau
report from Equifax and found nothing derogatory in it, and in fact subsequent to
Chevy Chase Bank's actions have easy obtained other credit. We have since paid off
the account in full using funds from our savings account.
In January of 1996 Chevy Chase Bank relocated their headquarters from Maryland (where
there is an interest rate ceiling of 24%) to Northern Virginia (where there is NO
CEILING on interest rates). Shortly after they moved they began increasing interest
rates on some of their customers. The interest rate changes were imposed on the entire
balance and without consent or approval. They then made several changes to their
"Terms and Conditions" including several which attempt to take away account
holders constitutional, civil and federally protected rights, e.g., waiving your
right to a trial by jury, forbidding you from filing bankruptcy, and stating that
you can not sue them for any reason.
NEWS 4 Consumer Reporter, Elizabeth Crenshaw aired a story entitled "CHEVY CHASE
INTEREST" on MAY 14, 1996 6PM. The transcript can be viewed at http://www.nbc4.com/consum
After we tried to resolve this through Chevy Chase Bank with no success, we contacted
the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), who is chartered to over see institutions
like Chevy Chase Bank. After more than a year and dozens of letters, the OTS has
acknowledged that Chevy Chase Bank violated some of the requirements of the Fair
Credit Reporting Act. Other potential violations and wrong doings are now being
investigated by various legislative representatives, several consumer activist organizations,
and now by Ralph Nader.
Dozens of victims of Chevy Chase Bank have formed a local organization called the
Chevy Chase Bank Victims Society to share information and unite efforts in taking
corrective actions both in bringing about legislative changes as well as to pursue
legal remedies with Chevy Chase Bank. You can visit the web page at http://pursuit.kis.net/pub
lic/chevy.htm and on that page you can sign up to be a member of an Internet
email mailing list called "Chevy Chase Bank Blues".
Subject: Chevy Chase Bank Stealing Without a Gun
Date: October 21, 1997
From: Esther L. Pigg
Dear Steve and Lynn:
I really thought I was the lone individual that Chevy Chase had targeted with
its inflated high interest rates. I have two charge cards with Chevy Chase
bank. Am I crazy or what? Anyway, to make a long story short, Chevy Chase Bank claims
that after a recent review of my credit rating~ they find it necessary to increase
my interest rate. I have received at least two such letters and subsequent increases
during 1996. Despite the fact that I refinanced my home, without a problem, Chevy
Chase Bank considers me a risk based on their unknown criteria assessed after a credit
rating review that makes them believe that the likelihood of them getting paid is
resolved by charging customers excessive interest rates. (Is this sick thinking?)
Anyway, my interest rate went from an introductory offer of 5.9% to subsequent
periodic interest rate increases until this past year, when it appears they either
lost their minds or their computers forgot how to add and subtract when they increased
my rate to 26.4%. If that isn't bad enough, they appear to have the nerve to
assess the increased interest rate back to charges purchased in 1995. I will never
understand how a bank can legally charge customers such high interest rates and get
away with it.
It kind of caught me off guard when I first noticed this increase. I initially
thought I forgot to send my payment. When I realized that I had sent the payment,
but only $11.00 was credited toward my account, I became nauseated and so stressed
that I could not sleep. I also noticed that when I mailed the payment from out of
town, Chevy Chase charged me a late fee therefore, not only did I not get a credit,
I also received a $20 late fee charge and thus instead of my balance decreasing,
it in fact increased. This made me even sicker. After checking with my bank, I realized
that Chevy Chase assessed a late fee on my account on the day before or the day that
my check had actually cleared my bank. (can you believe this) Well, they were kind
enough to remove the late fee after realizing that they had been caught.
Oh well, you get the point. Chevy Chase Bank is the biggest crook around. They
are stealing without a gun. Can you believe that I just received a letter today from
them telling me that I have been a "valued" customer since 1986 and offering
me an opportunity to participate in Shoppers Advantage.
What are we going to do. Well I requested a copy of my statements for the past
two years so that I can try to determine what authority they have to retroactively
assess high interest rates. I would love to bake a cake for them. Anyway, I am truly
interested in whatever actions you want to take to let the many others that are probably
as sick as we are with the unfair, inequitable banking practices of the CHEVY CHASE
BANK. I look forward to participating in any class action that you may want
to bring, gather information from other victims, such as us, or participating in
any way to let the public beware of the unethical banking practices of
Chevy Chase Bank.
Esther L. Pigg
Subject: Chevy Chase Bank Sucks
Date: October 19, 1997
From: Sam Boon
I would like to make a complaint against Chevy Chase Bank regarding the credit
card interest rate that was increased from 21.80 to 26.74.
On June, 1997 I did cash advance for $9,000, a month later I noticed that the
interest shown my credit card 26.74 I though it was a mistake by the computer. I
called and talked to one of their account rep and I was told that due to my recent
credit report shows that I have some delinquency payment and all my credits have
reached credit limit. They gave the phone number to contact the credit report service.
I called them and asked for a copy of the report. I did not see any delinquency payment,
which I knew but I want to see if there is discrepancy in the report I felt that
this bank to try to trap me in deep debts so that you cannot get out of it
and continue making payments the rest of your life. Now I am in trouble, how can
I make a monthly payment with the interest rate of 26.74. I my initial credit limit
was $8,000. Since I was a good trust worthy customer at that time, they raised my
credit limit to $13,800. My lowest balance with them since April, 1997 was $4,433.
I made a cash advance in June. 1997 for $9,000. The following month my interest was
increased from 21.80 to 26.74. I stopped making payment immediately and looking for
the attorney to bring legal law suit as discrimination and racism.
I decided before I bring a law suit and I wanted to talk to higher ranking officer
in the bank to save both of us legal fee via their web site, and I did the a search
and found your web site, I am so happy to see that together we can bring a class
action law suit for unethical business practice, no justice. I am going to go ahead
and make my monthly payment, it will take month or years before the case is settled.
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 1997
From: Kenneth K. Kirsch
Subject: Unfair treatment of good paying customers
In the last couple of months my Chevy Chase credit card has increased the interest
rate to 23.5 %. When asked why they raised the interest, they said because of
something that showed on my credit file. After researching my credit history I discovered
the I have no late payments and several credit accounts that are current.
I will be paying off my Chevy Chase account and will NEVER use Chevy Chase Bank
for any of my banking needs.
Hope, the Virginia Banking commission wakes up and helps the consumers with this
bank. To charge more than 20% interest is almost criminal.
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 1997
Chevy Chase Bank Unfair Interest
My name is (name with-held), I have a Master Card account with Chevy Chase Bank.
I am very dissatisfied with their most recent action to increase my credit card
interest rate, based on, according to them, a recent credit report. I asked if
they considered my history of payment with them, i. e., paying more than requested
and paying on time. To this question I received no response, only that the increase
was based on the credit report, and that they will not change it. I suddenly remembered
that some time ago I read an article on Chevy Chase Bank and discrimination, in desperation,
I searched the net to find out any information on discrimination or unfair treatment
and I found your address. Is there any solution to this situation. Thank you in advance.
Date: 28 Aug 97
Gouged and furious
I just got on the web to search under Chevy Chase Bank,as I was searching for
the highest level officer in the bank org to register my complaints ranging over
the past 12 months and most recently again last evening with a copy to an attorney
that I was considering hiring for a case. Pleasantly found your home page.......please
please please let me know what we need to do. I feel that these complaints (which
by the way I have some documented, go well beyond the credit card, as we were former
checking account customers) need to be put before the public, but more importantly,
the FDIC, the Fair Credit Report'g Agencies, the State, and anyone else -----THESE
PEOPLE NEED INVESTIGATING. I believe a little publicity on CHANNEL 7 or 9 may help
as well. These A..holes are unbelievable. Just try and talk with the "customer
service representatives", now that's a pleasant experience.
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997
HOW TRUE, HOW TRUE.
I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO COULDN'T KEEP UP. CCB ASKS ME FOR A MINIMUM PAYMENT
OF $47 PER MONTH. HOWEVER, MY FINANCE CHARGES ARE USUALLY $50-$51 PER MONTH. IF
I PAY THE MINIMUM DUE (AND THIS HAS ALREADY HAPPENED TO ME) MY BALANCE ONLY GOES
UP, NOT DOWN. AT ONE POINT, I WAS OVER MY LIMIT AND THEY WERE CHARGING ME AGAIN.
I'M ON A BUDGET AND COULDN'T KEEP UP! FINALLY I CALL THEM AND THEY SUGGESTED I MAKE
DOUBLE PAYMENTS! IN OTHER WORDS, PAY THE MINIMUM PLUS THE FINANCE CHARGES ALL IN
ONE MONTH! SUFFICE IT TO SAY, I TRY TO PAY A BIT MORE THAN THE MINIMUM, WHEN I CAN.
ALL THIS DOES IS KEEPS MY BALANCE THE SAME MONTH AFTER MONTH. I ALWAYS THOUGHT THERE
WAS SOMETHING FISHY, BUT FIGURED I'D EVENTUALLY BRING MY HEAD ABOVE WATER WITH THEM.
GOOD LUCK TO US ALL!
Go to Page 2
Bookmark this page and come back for breaking news.