The following story was an episode that happened to me personally, during a time when I was operating a debt management blog.
The irony is that I have always been as financially responsible as possible, trying to maintain an excellent credit score by paying bills on time and never taking on more debt than our family can handle.
Nothing much ever came of the blog, because I just didn’t have time to put much energy into it.
However, what I didn’t realize is that in parallel with the manipulation and harassment that I was receiving from JP Morgan Chase, the entire financial banking system was gearing up to receive a huge infusion of cash.
On October 3, 2008, Congress passed a $700 billion bailout bill to aid the troubled mortgage-backed securities. Bank received a direct infusion of $115 billion when the U.S. Treasury purchased preferred stock.
The scenario below occurred in 2008 – the same year. I’ve decided to republish this article back onto the Internet as further evidence as to why Occupy America protesters are rising up across the nation to take back the country.
If, after reading this, you still feel that the “Occupy” protests are not focused with a solid reason for revolting, then you may want to put down your cocktail glass and put away your silver spoons, because the protesters will be at your doorstep soon.
Shifting Due Dates
The story that needs to be told is the story that many credit card consumers have either faced or are facing in dealing with unscrupulous credit card companies.
Based on my personal experiences, Chase is by far the most vile, evil credit card company in the world. Although, from what I’ve heard from family and friends, the other major banks are not very far behind.
This little scenerio was easily one of the slickest tricks I’ve ever watched a credit card company attempt to pull on a consumer. I was lucky enough to have available credit left, the funds to save myself, and numerous options at my disposal.
But I can’t imagine the fear, terror and stress that these actions must have caused for those poor families that couldn’t afford it.
The following scenerio started in 2008 when Chase, in a very odd manner, decided to shift my due date to about three days earlier than the day that I normally pay it.
I found this interesting, because for a year or so I paid this account religiously on the same date, the 13th. My due date was always on the 16th.
When I logged in to check my account one month in 2008, I found that the bank had modified the due date to the 13th and then charged me a $30 late fee. Interesting tactic.
Little did I know it was only the beginning.
Other Consumers Get Shafted
Doing a little online hunting, I quickly discovered that this was apparently just how JP Morgan Chase Bank does business. On the website RippedOffReport, I found the following report from Jonathan of Missouri, in June of 2007:
“I have had a Chase Bank credit card going on 10 years now, recently I was reviewing my automatic payment from my bank account to Chase and my online statement about a week before payment was normally due. My auto payment had already been sent sent but to my amazement my required payment had more than doubled and my payment was now due yesterday.”
Then, this one on My3Cents from Nielb in 2008:
“My payment date was suddenly changed making my payment two days late. I had automatically paid the same amount on the same date each month. Then they charged me a $35 late fee.”
And ConsumerWarning quotes Steve from a 2007 post:
“I was scammed big by JP Morgan Chase Credit Cards. They apparently have “floating due dates” that we had not encountered in our 10+ years as customers but somehow February of 2007 was the magic month. They moved our due date up by 3 days, our payment was two days late. They raised our interest rate from 3.99% to 29.99%…Amazingly enough, on our March bill the due date is exactly the same as January. They claim they sent us a notification letter, but I never received one.”
ConsumerAffiars even recognized the odd behavior, and published an article on the matter in March of 2008. JP Morgan Chase offered no explanation for the unethical behavior.
The scam was fairly obvious to me. This particular tactic by JP Morgan Chase was to jump their customer’s due dates back in order to force a huge influx of late fees. Since only a small percentage of customers ever bothered to call in to complain (as I did), then even if they refunded the late fee in those particular cases, they were still left with a huge population of customers who simply caved in to the abuse and didn’t bother, or didn’t care enough, to complain.
This provided JP Morgan Chase with a huge influx of money that was essentially stolen from their customer base.
The 2008/2009 JP Morgan Chase Extortion Scam
In 2008, I was at least content that I had avoided financial damage from Chase’s “Due Date Scam”… but later the same year I was in for quite a surprise.
Being a diligent credit consumer, I check my online statements carefully every month, especially after I realized Chase plays these horrible games.
In December of 2008, I noticed a strange $10 erroneous charge to my account. Alerted by the previous incident, I followed up quickly to see what their excuse was this time.
I never could have predicted the scope and nastiness of the latest scam. After an initial exchange, I was informed that Chase was applying a $10 fee to members who had balances with low-rate promotional offers. Furthermore, Chase doubled the minimum payment due unless the member was willing to accept a significantly higher interest rate.
I immediate wrote to Chase using their electronic messaging system under my account:
“I’ve just noticed that you’ve illegally changed the term of my balance transfer agreement and are assessing a $10 monthly charge in addition to the interest rate that I agreed upon when I signed up for the balance transfer promotion. The balance transfer agreement was a legal and binding agreement, regardless of whether you send a ‘change in terms’ in the mail, that does not make the change in terms legal. I’m getting pretty sick of the games Chase keeps playing (changing due dates/changing terms) in order to try to assess fees on accounts that have been in excellent standing for years. That’s not only illegal and unethical – it’s very poor business practice. We’re the ones making payments on time – you should be rewarding us not trying to screw us using illegal business practices like this.
The response was a remarkable admission of fault on the part of Chase – and a blatant statement that they are openly extorting members by threatening them with both an erroneous monthly service charge and an unreasonable increase in the minimum payment due. This activity fits the definition of “extortion” perfectly.
Here was Chase’s response:
“Dear Ryan, As your credit card company, we value your business. It’s important to us that we address your questions regarding the terms associated with your account. Thank you for sharing your concerns with us.
We consistently review our business practices to ensure that we provide valued services and remain competitive in the business. As noted in your Cardmember Agreement, we may change the terms associated with your account and will notify you of the change in writing in accordance with applicable law.
Our records indicate that a Change in Terms notice was sent to you in November 2008, which advised of the addition of an Account Service Fee and a change to the required minimum payment for your account, effective as of your January 2009 billing statement. Please note that the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on your account is not changing and you may continue to take advantage of the promotional APR currently in effect on your account.
An alternative is available, but it does mean giving up the current APR on your promotional rate balance(s) with no expiration date.
Quite the “alternative” option! Keep in mind, the bank was fully aware at this point that Congress was going through the motions of infusing massive cash into the banking system to try and help consumers. Yet the banks were doing everything they could to harm those same consumers financially.
The message continued:
“This alternate offer will suppress the assessment of the monthly Account Service Charge, and we’ll credit your account for the last monthly Account Service Charge assessed. Your minimum payment calculation will also return to the greater of the following:
* 2% of the New Balance or
* The sum of 1% of the New Balance, billed interest, and any billed late fees. Please note that any amounts that are past due or over your credit limit may be added to this calculation.
If you would like us to apply these alternate terms to your account, please send us an email reply confirming your acceptance of the alternate terms. If you prefer, you may also contact Customer Service directly at the phone number listed on the back of your credit card.
Note: We must receive your confirmation of acceptance in order to apply the alternate terms to your account. If the confirmation is not received, the Account Service Charge and increased minimum payment will remain in effect on your account.”
Nice way to close out the message, by reiterating the terms of the extortion. We “must receive your confirmation of acceptance”, or else we’ll charge you a monthly erroneous fee and jack your minimum payment so that you’ll have to eat Ramen Noodles for the next 10 years just to pay your bills.
To say that I was shocked by the blatant threats throughout this response is an understatement. In the end, I transferred all of the debt to two other, more respectable, credit cards companies, save for a few hundred dollars.
I wanted to keep the account open just to see when and if a class action lawsuit eventually opened, and I would join it. To this day, I have heard of no action yet taken against Chase or any other bank that acted against the American people in this manner – and that is unfortunate. It appears that the American people have no one on their side, not even their elected officials.
In short, eventually Chase backed down on the changes…of course by then, they’d accomplished their goal. They wanted either the debt gone from the account, or they wanted customers to cave in to the extortion and accept the new terms.
JP Morgan Chase and Other Companies Meeting with Congress
I originally had sent my scenario to my State Senator, Susan Collins of Maine. I never heard back. I was encouraged by news of an upcoming hearing between the President and the major credit card CEO’s. Little did I realize that it was only a precursor to our elected officials handing the banks a massive cash gift courtesy of the American taxpayer.
I encourage everyone that suffered under these threats and harassment to join with the “Occupy” protests in your part of the country, to speak out against the tragedy that Corporate greed has inflicted on the nation and on the American people.
It needs to be made very clear to Congress, to the authorities that are harassing and attacking protesters, and to the CEOs of these corporations, that these companies need to pay dearly for conducting themselves in this manner.
Even though I have stellar credit and can obtain credit from any other lender, I am now currently blacklisted from obtaining any credit product funded by JP Morgan Chase.
Chase, and all banks that treat American consumers like cash cows – need to finally answer for their horrible and unethical behavior they’ve conducted over the past decade.
I also encourage all current JP Morgan Chase customers to switch to other, more respectable companies if they can find any. Your best option, at this point, is to join a non-profit Credit Union.
And for the sake of your country and your own family’s future – join the protests.
Image Credit: CS MonitorOriginally published on TopSecretWriters.com