AmEx to refund $85 mln to consumers to settle credit card probe

WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Three American Express subsidiaries will refund $85 million to customers to resolve charges that they broke consumer protection laws, U.S. regulators said on Monday.

The subsidiaries charged illegal late fees, treated applicants differently based on age, misled consumers about debt collection and committing other violations, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said.

In addition to the refund to about 250,000 customers, American Express will pay civil penalties totaling $27.5 million to the CFPB, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

"Several American Express companies violated consumer protection laws and those laws were violated at all stages of the game - from the moment a consumer shopped for a card to the moment the consumer got a phone call about long overdue debt," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said.

The CFPB was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law and charged with overseeing credit cards, mortgage loans and other consumer financial products.

It said American Express violations occurred over a period from 2003 to the spring of 2012.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

(( 354 5823))