Authorities probing robo-signing on credit card accounts

A federal agency is now looking into whether one of the nation's top credit card lenders allowed some accounts to be wrongfully sent to collections agencies with a tactic similar to those mortgage lenders used during the robo-signing controversy.

The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is now investigating JPMorgan Chase's credit card collection practices as a result of concerns that the company was improperly handling delinquent balances, according to a report from American Banker. This wing of the lender's business earned it more than $1.2 billion in 2009 alone.

The OCC also told the bank it had to stop suing its delinquent borrowers last year as a result of the questionable collections practices, the report said. Whistleblowers say that in most cases, the bank's collections agency routinely failed to verify whether debts being collected were being handled properly.

Falling behind on credit card bills and having them sent to collections, either properly or improperly, can have a profound negative impact on borrowers' credit scores. Consequently, consumers should regularly check their credit reports for any unfair or incorrect markings that might be affecting them adversely.