Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to help any Californians harmed by possible mismanagement of unemployment benefits by Bank of America. The letter to Acting Director David Uejio follows a report in Politico that the CFPB is investigating the bank.
At least $11 billion was paid to applicants with fraudulent claims last year after Congress passed legislation to increase unemployment benefits. This activity led Bank of America to incorrectly freeze benefits for many legitimate claimants in California until the matter was resolved.
“To the extent that the CFPB finds any evidence of negligence or wrongdoing on the part of Bank of America, I ask that you do everything within your power to ensure that any Californians harmed by those actions are helped, and to make such recommendations to Congress as may be warranted,” wrote Senator Feinstein.
Full text of the letter is available here and below:
April 15, 2021
Mr. David Uejio
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1275 First St., NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
Dear Acting Director Uejio:
Last week, Politico reported that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is investigating Bank of America’s handling of fraudulent activity in California’s unemployment benefits system. To the extent that the CFPB finds any evidence of negligence or wrongdoing on the part of Bank of America, I ask that you do everything within your power to ensure that any Californians harmed by those actions are helped, and to make such recommendations to Congress as may be warranted.
The sudden and massive unemployment caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created major problems for state unemployment benefits systems, including California’s. This included large-scale fraud by organized criminal organizations and others in the claiming of unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, this fraud also led Bank of America, with which California contracted to issue debit cards to distribute unemployment benefits, to freeze accounts of both legitimate and illegitimate benefits recipients, leading to confusion and delaying recipients from being able to pay bills.
I want to ensure that Californians do not experience similar problems in the future. If you find that Bank of America acted inappropriately, please ensure that the CFPB takes appropriate steps to help any Californians affected by those actions, and let me know what Congress can do to prevent any future problems. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
United States Senator