The Los Angeles City Attorney (Mike Feuer) on Tuesday filed a civil lawsuit against Wells Fargo alleging the bank opened up savings and checking accounts and issued credit cards in customers’ names, without authorization. The lawsuit further alleges that Wells Fargo failed to inform customers of the alleged misuse of their personal information and did not refund fees to customers for unwanted services.
Why did this happen? The lawsuit alleges that it was Wells Fargo’s quota-based business model that pressured its staff to push customers into additional products that were not wanted, needed and in some cases not authorized.
The result? Consumers have suffered in numerous ways, according to the lawsuit: They lost money to monthly service fees charged for unauthorized accounts; customer accounts are sent to collection agencies pitting innocent customers against debt collection agencies collecting fees charged by Wells Fargo on unauthorized accounts; customers’ credit reports are affected impacting job applications and loans; customers are forced to purchase costly identity theft protection to help avoid further harm.
News reports suggest that the practice may be more widespread than just the Los Angeles area.
If you are a Wells Fargo customer, here’s what this could mean for you:
Los Angeles City Attorney Feuer is asking all Wells Fargo customers to review their account activity carefully for any red flags indicating suspicious activity by the bank. Ask yourself:
- Have unauthorized savings and checking accounts been opened in your name?
- Have accounts you’ve closed stayed open?
- Have you received debit or credit cards you didn’t request?
- Has a line of credit been opened that you didn’t ask for?
- Have you been charged fees for any of these unauthorized activities?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, here are three things you can do today:
1) Call and report the discrepancies to the City Attorney’s dedicated hotline: 213-978-3393
2) Share your story with us here. https://stori.es/share/banking-2015
3) Complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through this link: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/#bank-account or contact the CFPB at (855) 411-CFPB (2372), TTY/TDD (855) 729-CFPB (2372) during the hours of 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Eastern, Monday–Friday. Help is available in 180+ languages.