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US Bank ordered to refund ID theft protection customers $48M

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If you paid for certain identity theft protection services from U.S. Bank, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says you may not have actually received those services – and you may even be owed money.

The bureau ruled Thursday more than 420,000 of U.S. Bancorp's customers were illegally billed for "Privacy Guard" and "Identity Secure" programs from 2002-2013, and the Minneapolis-based bank agreed to pay them back a total of $47.9 million, the Huffington Post reports.

"We have consistently warned companies about practices related to add-on products and we will do what is necessary to prevent further harm to consumers," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, according to USA Today. U.S. Bank, the site reports, said it quickly took action to fix the problems when they were discovered two years ago, adding it regrets the errors.

The bureau cited a few issues with U.S. Bank's program in its ruling.

For one, the services weren't always provided, CBS News explains. The bureau said U.S. Bank hired a vendor to run the monitoring services, but often were not actually provided – yet U.S. Bank kept charging for them anyway, sometimes for years, CBS New reports.

According to CBS News, some of those charges actually caused customers to overdraw on their bank account, leading to additional charges from the bank, the bureau said.

The bureau said the bank also began billing for the services without getting appropriate permission from the customers, Consumer Affairs reports. Any company that provides a credit monitoring service needs to get written permission from that customer, the site says. U.S. Bank did not do that, according to the CFPB, but instead immediately enrolled them as soon as they signed up.

From here, the Washington Post says U.S. Bank has 90 days to outline a reimbursement plan. If approved by regulators, restitution payments will begin. According to the Post, the bureau says anyone that is still with U.S. Bank will see their account credited; anyone not with the bank will be mailed a check.

The bank also must pay a $5 million penalty to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and $4 million to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

U.S. Bank stocks closed down 1.41 percent Thursday.

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