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Synchrony Financial is a consumer financial services company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, United States. Prior to 2014, Synchrony operated as GE Capital Retail Finance Corporation and was a division of General Electric. Synchrony Financial offers consumer financing products, including credit, promotional financing and loyalty programs. Synchrony Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary. It is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Synchrony is the largest provider of private label credit cards in the U.S. In 2014, the company comprised 42 percent of the private label credit card market. The company provides private label credit cards for such brands as Amazon, Walmart, Lowe’s, Guitar Center, Gap. The CareCredit credit card, also through Synchrony Bank, is for elective healthcare procedures or services, such as dental, veterinary, cosmetic, vision and audiology.
Accusations of deceptive practices and CFPB consent decree. In June 2014, Synchrony agreed to pay $225 million after entering into a consent decree with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB alleged "deceptive and discriminatory practices" regarding Synchrony's consumer credit cards. With regards to the practices that the CFPB called "deceptive," it was alleged that, while operating as GE Capital, Synchrony telemarketers had sold numerous credit card add-on services, such as debt cancellation agreements, to consumers without notifying the buyer in an upfront manner of the terms of the agreements. According to the CFPB, in many cases, consumers were unaware that they would be charged for these services.
With regards to the practices the CFPB called "discriminatory," it was found that Synchrony had discriminated against Latino Americans by excluding from two different promotional statement credit deals customers who had elected to receive communications in Spanish and customers with mailing addresses in Puerto Rico. The promotional deals were offered from 2009 until 2012 to customers with delinquent accounts and allowed them to settle their balance with Synchrony Financial by paying some amount which was less than the outstanding balance, under certain conditions. It is not known why Synchrony chose not to offer this promotion to its Hispanic customers, but the CFPB found that this practice constituted "discriminat[ion]... on the basis of... race and national origin."
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