For release on November 15, 2021
Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
Synchrony Bank to Pay $3.5 Million to Settle Suit for Harassing Calls
Synchrony Bank will pay $3.5 million to settle a civil lawsuit brought by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and a statewide team of district attorneys alleging the bank made unreasonably frequent or harassing phone calls to debtors in California.
In some cases, the bank or its agents called people even after they were accurately told it was a wrong number.
DA Rosen said: “Banks must play by the rules of civility and law when they pursue consumers for alleged debts. These rules protect consumers against unreasonable and harassing behavior.”
The investigation and prosecution of the case was handled by the California Debt Collection Task Force, a statewide law enforcement team composed of the district attorneys of Santa Clara, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties.
The civil consumer protection complaint alleges that Synchrony Bank and its agents engaged in unlawful debt collection activities from call centers in and outside the United States. The complaint alleges that the collection calls were often made in an excessive and unreasonable number, and sometimes continued after the consumers indicated they no longer wished to receive the calls.
The judgment negotiated with the Utah-based company, entered September 9, 2021 in Los Angeles Superior Court and signed by Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong, requires that Synchrony Bank implement and maintain policies and procedures to prevent unreasonable and harassing debt collection calls to California consumers, including limiting the total number of calls to each debtor and honoring consumer requests for calls to stop.
Under the judgment, which was entered without admission of wrongdoing, Synchrony Bank was ordered to pay a total of $3.5 million, including $2 million in civil penalties and $975,000 in investigative costs. Because individualized restitution is not feasible under these circumstances, the judgment also requires Synchrony Bank to pay $525,000 in alternative restitution to a charitable trust fund to support additional consumer protection efforts. The prosecution task force indicated that Synchrony Bank worked cooperatively with the prosecutors to resolve the matter.
The Santa Clara County DA’s Office will receive $500,000 from the settlement, which will be used to bolster the office’s efforts to protect consumers.