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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Trump running mate Vance to deliver 'the most important speech' of his career at Republican convention tonight; Alabama group receives grant to boost FAFSA submissions; Bilingual, multicultural staff needed for NJ addiction treatment; Toledo plant to manufacture EVs with federal funding.

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The Republican National Convention connects crime to migration. Kari Lake and delegates from Texas, Florida, and California talk about border issues. Desantis pokes fun at President Biden and Nikki Haley gives the night's big speech.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Feds fine bank $20 million for illegal car insurance practices

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Thursday, July 11, 2024   

Fifth Third Bank just agreed to pay a $20 million fine to settle charges it forced car buyers to purchase unnecessary insurance and created fake accounts in customers' names.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said the bank required customers with car loans to buy insurance, even if they already had coverage or got their own within 30 days.

Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said some customers then could not afford the payments.

"There were about 1,000 consumers who had their cars repossessed," Shahan recounted. "Most people rely on their car to get to and from work, and get their kids to school, and get to medical appointments. So that is really devastating when they lose their car."

In a statement, Fifth Third Bank said it shut down the protection insurance program in 2019 and is taking action to set things right. The money from the fine will go to a fund to reimburse 35,000 customers who were harmed. The court order also bans the company from setting employee sales goals incentivizing fraudulently opening accounts.

Shahan pointed out car dealers sometimes make verbal promises differing from the written contract or fail to even print out the financing paperwork. She wants people to know they cannot be required to buy insurance if they already have coverage.

"The best way to avoid all these scams is join a credit union, get your own financing, and deal with a reputable bank," Shahan recommended. "Don't let the dealer get financing for you."

In 2015, Fifth Third Bank was ordered to pay more than $21 million in fines for discriminatory auto loan pricing and for illegal credit card practices.

Disclosure: Californians for Safety and Justice contributes to our fund for reporting on Criminal Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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