A District Judge for the Northern District of California ordered Bank of America to change its behaviour towards thousands of clients who have been victims of hackers.
According to the victims (unemployed California residents receiving benefits), when they told the bank that their prepaid debit cards were hacked, it acted as if they were criminals, Bloomberg Quint reported.
In response to plaintiffs’ claims that Bank of America refused to investigate the breaches and in some cases blocked accounts unaffected by the incident, District Judge Vince Chhabria ordered the bank to improve its procedures. The final plan for changes was spelt out in an agreement between Bank of America and the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
“As California’s unemployment program faced billions of dollars in fraud, the goal of Bank of America was to ensure that the rightful recipients had access to their benefits. With this agreement, we commit ourselves to take additional measures to help those eligible for unemployment benefits receive these benefits as soon as possible, ”the agreement says.
According to a district judge, the bank caused “irreparable harm” to beneficiaries when it launched its far-from-perfect verification process and blocked the accounts they needed to “feed their families and pay for a roof over their heads” during the pandemic.
“Just as for a company, losing money could mean closing it down, for people, losing wages or benefits could mean being evicted from their homes, starving, or denying needed medical care,” the judge said.
According to the lawyers, further pre-trial exchange of information is planned. The lawyers intend to pursue an order requiring Bank of America to make ongoing changes in its practice and pay damages for pecuniary damage.
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