by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 4th 2008 1:16pm
A few years back, that I accidentally added an extra zero to a bill I paid for phone service. The company automatically credited the account, and a quick call got them to send a check with the overpaid amount. I know others who have accidentally paid a bill twice, or simply overpaid a bill because they didn't have the exact amount of the bill handy and wasn't able to look up the specifics. In most cases, the companies in question would just credit the difference. However, it turns out that Citibank had a different idea. It apparently decided that if you overpaid a bill, you really were just donating free money to Citibank executives' bonus fund. The company actually had a "sweeping" software that would scan customer accounts for a positive credit and simply wipe it off their account, transferring the money to Citibank's general account. This wasn't just a small thing either -- it went on for more than a decade, and the whistleblower who brought it up was fired. And, if you thought I was joking about the executive bonus fund, an executive from Citibank told investigators: "the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool." Of course, now the state of California has "convinced" Citibank to pay back all that money, plus some interest.
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