FDIC levies penalties against First California Bank

June 3, 2013

first bankThe Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. levied $1.7 million in penalties against First California Bank on Friday for misleading customers about prepaid card features and for charging fees that were not clearly disclosed.

The cards are part of a program First California Financial Group participated in to provide re-loadable cards to deliver federal benefits payments to its customers. The FDIC said First California Bank violated provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act prohibiting “unfair and deceptive practices.”

Under a settlement agreement, the bank has agreed to pay $600,000 in civil money penalties and approximately $1.1 million in restitution to over 64,000 cardholders.

In December, PacWest Bancorp signed an agreement to purchase First California Financial Group for $231 million. First California runs 19 branches from San Luis Obispo down to San Diego and boasts $1.74 billion in assets.

PacWest’s proposed purchase of First California Bank is slated to result in the closure of one branch in San Luis Obispo and more banking sector job losses.




  1. r0y says:

    Anyone who is not FORCED into getting cash cards / debit-VISA / debit-MC / etc. are fools. I understand that one may have their credit so eviscerated (or even unestablished) that it is the only option, but for everyone else: steer clear.

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    • obispan says:

      Read the Wikipedia article. If you have bad credit you can get a secured card that provides you all the protections of a credit card – but has your name associated with it and your transactions are linked to you forever. “Stored value cards” provide provide anonymity and are commonly used for cash laundering and illicit transfers. The banks love ’em because they charge a monthly fee off the balance and a lost card is cash in pocket.

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  2. isoslo says:

    Isn’t that a picture of Union Bank, formerly Santa Barbara Bank & Trust?

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    • justchuck says:

      When you’ve seen one bank apparently you’ve seen them all, Isoslo.

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    • unlisted says:

      No, I think it’s First Bank of SLO.

      First California Bank is at the old San Luis Trust building.

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    • Robert1 says:

      It’s hard to tell one banker form another these days, unless they pull down their bandanna.

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  3. justchuck says:

    How much did they net with these practices? The fines and penalties may be a drop in the bucket and it would be like Madoff being fined a few million after losing billions for people.

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    • unlisted says:

      The article state “approximately $1.1 million in restitution to over 64,000 cardholders.” That would be what they ripped off.

      Based on my few dealings with First California Bank, good riddance!

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