New York City Debt Collection Defense Attorney

AG's Office Looks into Robo-Signing at JPMorgan Chase

The attorney general's office for the State of Mississippi has begun an investigation into allegations of "robo-signing[1]" in connection with credit card collection procedures at JPMorgan Chase.

Concerns about robo-signing at Chase first came to light in early 2011, in the context of a wrongful termination suit brought against the bank by a former employee, Linda Almonte. Chase fired Almonte after she raised questions with supervisors about a number of issues, including the bank's use of robo-signed affidavits. Ms. Almonte also contacted various federal regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC, in charge of supervising national banks, spent two months late last year at the San Antonio, Texas office of Chase where Almonte had worked investigating Chase's activities. The OCC considers that investigation ongoing.

Now, according to a September 18, 2012 article in American Banker[2], attorneys from the Mississippi AG's office, along with attorneys general in several other states that were not identified, are interviewing former Chase employees about robo-signing and other questionable practices at Chase. "At issue," stated the article, "is whether JPMorgan and other banks were unloading delinquent accounts before they could actually confirm past-due balances. Consumer advocates fear that banks are selling unreliable or in some cases extinguished accounts to debt buyers, who then turn around and sue consumers without disclosing doubts about the account's veracity."

Carole McGinn, one ex-employee of Chase who was contacted by the Mississippi AG's office said she had a lengthy conversation about the robo-signing of affidavits. Mac McGinn, Carole McGinn's husband also worked at Chase, and was responsible for gathering records and affirming account balances for debt buyers. McGinn said he also spoke with the AG's office. He said he and others had long been uncomfortable with the bank's processes, which left insufficient time to confirm the accuracy of account information.

[1] Robo-signing is a practice in which creditors produce boilerplate documents such as affidavits in mass quantities and simply insert facts in a "fill in the blanks" manner, then sign and submit the documents to the court in collections cases without following proper legal procedures or making a meaningful review. In the mortgage business, robo-signing and other documentary shortcomings prompted a 49-state attorney general investigation that resulted in a $25 billion settlement with five of the country's largest mortgage lenders – JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America and Ally Financial – in February 2012.

[2] Horowitz, Jeff (September 18, 2012). "State AGs Probing Sales of Credit Card Debt." American Banker.