California Attorney General Sues J.P. Morgan Over Alleged ‘Fraudulent and Unlawful Debt-Collection Practices’

By Matthias Rieker
Dow Jones Newswires, May 09, 2013

California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued J.P.Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) in state court on Thursday, claiming the bank has “run a massive debt collection mill that abuses the California judicial process.”

The attorney general alleges in the complaint that J.P.Morgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank by assets, robo-signed legal documents deployed in credit card debt-collections. Such signing is a practice previously used by banks in dealing with the massive number of home foreclosures, which led to regulatory sanctions.

“At the heart of the defendants’ unlawful conduct is the rampant use of ‘robo-signing’ — a practice of signing declarations, affidavits, and other documents in mass quantities, typically hundreds at a time, without any knowledge of the facts alleged in the document and without regard to the truth or accuracy of those facts,” according to the complaint,

Attorney General Harris said she demands J.P.Morgan Chase cease the alleged practices, which include flooding California courts with collection lawsuits and claiming inaccurate amounts–and compensate allegedly harmed borrowers.

“From January 2008 through April 2011, Chase filed thousands of debt collection lawsuits every month in the State of California,” the Attorney General’s office said a news release. “On one day alone, Chase filed 469 such lawsuits in California.”

The bank “employed unlawful practices as shortcuts to obtain judgments against California consumers with speed and ease that could not have been possible if Chase had adhered to the minimum substantive and procedural protections required by law,” according to the news release.

A spokeswoman for J.P.Morgan Chase declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Write to Matthias Rieker at matthias.rieker@dowjones.com

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