Customers are increasingly paying electric bills through their bank accounts and online, leaving banks with a patchwork of conflicting bills.
| AP article Citibank customers are increasingly buying gas-powered appliances, including washing machines, washing machines and dishwashers, in the hope they can keep their electricity bills under control.
But a federal investigation into whether the bank has broken the law by charging customers for electricity in violation of federal law could force Citibanks to provide an upfront refund.
The inquiry has been underway for years but the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Monday it is investigating whether Citibans electricity bills are being overcharged and overpaid.
“This is a matter of serious concern, and I’m pleased to have this agency in the picture to investigate this matter,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
The agency said it is also investigating whether banks and electric companies have failed to report overcharges and undercharges.
If CitibANK and electric utilities are found to be breaking the law, the CFPBs investigation could result in the cancellation of a customer’s electric bill.
Citibanks said it will be contacting all customers who have electric bills over $2,500 and are currently overcharged or undercharged.
Citigroup has not said how many customers have received cancellation letters.
But customers can take advantage of the power of the Internet to try to keep their bills under check.
Citi customers can look to www.energy-insurance.com for help finding out if they have been overcharged, or to call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-827-4357.
There is no charge to cancel an overpayment, but customers are advised to contact their bank to make sure they are receiving a refund.
Some customers have complained that their electric bills have been underpaid because of the lack of an agreement with the bank to overcharge them.
Last week, Citibanking was ordered to pay $3.5 million in fines and court costs to consumers after a federal jury found the bank failed to disclose to customers that they could overcharge the bank.
The jury ruled Citiban bank had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by not telling customers the potential penalty could be up to $3,500.
Civibank, however, said in a statement the settlement did not address the jury’s finding that the bank did not properly disclose the penalty to consumers.
According to Citibann’s statement, the bank will make changes to its financial reporting to make it clear that customers can overcharge by using the Consumer Charging Calculator.