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Feds probing American Express' business, consumer card sales practices

Feds probing American Express' business, consumer card sales practices
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American Express disclosed on Friday that several federal agencies are probing its sales practices for its small business credit cards and consumer cards.

The company said in a regulatory filing that it received a grand jury subpoena in January from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York over its sales practices for its small business credit cards. 

It also received a Civil Investigative Demand from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) seeking information on sales practices relating to consumers, according to the filing.

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The company also said it began responding to a regulatory review led by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) in May over “historical sales practices relating to certain small business card sales.”

The company said it is “cooperating with all of these inquiries and have continued to enhance our controls related to our sales practices.”

“We do not believe this matter will have a material adverse impact on our business or results of operations,” it added.

The DOJ did not have any comment, and the CFPB said it doesn't comment on pending enforcement work, including confirming or denying pending matters. 

The OCC didn’t immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that several U.S. financial agencies were investigating the company’s card sales practices, citing people familiar with the matter. Those agencies were the OCC, along with inspectors general of the Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Federal Reserve. 

Multiple current and former employees previously told the newspaper that some salespeople misled or strong-armed small businesses into signing up for cards to boost sales.

Updated: 9:30 p.m.