American Express under fire for late fees

One of the nation's top credit card lenders is in hot water with the federal government over the way it charges late fees for some of its cards.

American Express recently said that it was facing enforcement from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and perhaps the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well, due to the late fees it applied to some of its customers' charge card accounts, according to a report from Dow Jones Newswires. These fees were applied improperly because the lender was charging fees for "pay-in-full" accounts to cards that allowed users to carry a balance from one month to the next.

In addition to the federal attention, the practice has also come to the attention of the Utah Department of Financial Institutions, the report said. The FDIC plans to take formal enforcement action against AmEx's Centurion Bank lending arm.

Consumers who want to protect their finances should try to avoid falling behind on their bills at all costs, and also check their credit reports regularly. Doing so will allow them to make sure there are no unfair marks within those files that might cause undue financial harm.