New Orleans bail bond companies told to refund estimated $6 million for years of overcharges

New Orleans bail bond companies told to refund estimated $6 million for years of overcharges

NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP) - Louisiana's Insurance Department said many criminal bail bond providers in New Orleans have been overcharging customers for years and must refund the excess money collected.

A civil rights group estimated that Thursday's directive signed by Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon could mean the return of an estimated $6 million to as many as 50,000 people. The directive said premiums collected by bail bond companies cannot exceed 12 percent in Orleans Parish under a 2005 state law. He said companies that have charged in excess of 12 percent since that year must find the affected customers and make refunds by June 1.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said it filed a complaint with the department in September 2017 after discovering that bond companies in New Orleans were overcharging low-income criminal defendants.