INDIANA (WOWO) – Wells Fargo Bank N.A. will pay $575 million for claims that the bank violated state consumer protection laws, according to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. The settlement is for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The State if Indiana will recieve $5.2 million of the total settlement.
Specifically, the settlement resolves claims that Wells Fargo:
- opened millions of unauthorized accounts and enrolled customers into online banking services without their knowledge or consent;
- improperly referred customers for enrollment in third-party renters and life insurance policies;
- improperly charged auto loan customers for force-placed and unnecessary collateral protection insurance;
- failed to ensure that customers received refunds of unearned premiums on certain optional auto finance products; and
- incorrectly charged customers for mortgage rate lock extension fees.
Attorney General Hill states that “such grossly unfair and deceptive trade practices as those demonstrated by Wells Fargo must never be allowed to stand,” and goes on to say “we must continue working tirelessly to hold companies accountable for engaging in blatant misconduct that harms consumers.”
This the most significant engagement involving a national bank by a state attorney acting without a federal law enforcement partner up to this date.
Wells Fargo found more than 3.5 million accounts in which customer accounts were opened, funds transferred, credit card applications were filed and debit cards were issued without customer knowledge or consent. Also found were 528,000 online bill-pay enrollments nationwide and 6,500 renters insurance and/or simplified term life insurance policy applications and payments from customer accounts without customer consent.
It is alleged that Wells Fargo imposed aggressive and unrealistic sales goals on bank employees as well as incentive compensation programs qualifying employees for credit which, in turn, lead employees to resort to improper sales practices to meet such goals. Employees who failed to meet their goals faced potential termination and career hindering criticism from their supervisors.
The States also alleged that Wells Fargo improperly purchased automotive insurance policies for more than two million customers with auto loans and charged them the premiums, interest and fees even though the customers regular insurance policy was in effect.
Additionally, it is alleged that Wells Fargo charged residential mortgage loan consumers for rate lock extension fees even when the delay was caused by Wells Fargo.
As a part of the settlement, Wells Fargo has agreed to implement within 60 years a program for consumers can contact Wells Fargo to be reviewed for potential redress if they believe the were affected by their conduct.