Wells Fargo on Friday announced it will pay a total of $575 million to resolve civil claims with all 50 state Attorneys General and the District of Columbia that the bank violated state consumer protection laws.
Specifically, Wells Fargo Bank violated state consumer protection laws by: (1) opening millions of unauthorized accounts and enrolling customers into online banking services without their knowledge or consent, (2) improperly referring customers for enrollment in third-party renters and life insurance policies, (3) improperly force-placing and charging more than 850,000 auto finance customers for unnecessary and duplicative insurance policies, (4) failing to ensure that customers received refunds of unearned premiums on certain optional auto finance products, and (5) incorrectly charging customers for mortgage rate lock extension fees.
“Wells Fargo is paying over half a billion dollars to the states because of conduct that caused widespread harm on a national level, in bank accounts, auto loans, and mortgages,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose Bureau of Consumer Protection co-led the investigation and negotiation of the settlement.
“This bank opened millions of accounts for customers who didn’t know about them, charged auto finance customers for insurance policies they didn’t want or need, and charged mortgage customers over $100 million in unwarranted fees,” Shapiro added. “With this settlement, we are holding Wells Fargo accountable and changing corporate conduct to protect consumers.”
Wells Fargo said it has been engaged with its federal regulators to address these issues and is remediating affected customers. “This agreement underscores our serious commitment to making things right in regard to past issues as we work to build a better bank,” Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer and President Tim Sloan said in a response statement.
Wells Fargo said it will provide periodic reports to the states on the progress of its existing remediation efforts. As of the end of third quarter 2018, the company had accrued $400 million of the settlement amount and expects to accrue the remaining $175 million in fourth quarter 2018.
Wells Fargo made Compliance Week’s list of the top ethics and compliance failures of both 2016 and 2018 for its unethical conduct.
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