Imagine going into a store to buy something. A few months later, without having returned to the store, you find out the store bought one of their products on your behalf, without bothering to tell you about it or get your permission. That’s essentially what a class of consumers are alleging Wells Fargo did for more than a decade while its aggressive sales team were encouraged to do everything in their power to meet their quotas.
According to a recent class action consumer lawsuit, Wells Fargo allegedly created more than 2 million credit cards, lines of credit, checking accounts and savings accounts, without first getting approval from the customers for whom they were opening the accounts. Not only were the customers made to pay the fees to open these accounts they never wanted, but some of them suffered damage to their credit history as a result of credit cards and lines of credit that were opened for them and then never used.
After a class of consumers filed a class action lawsuit seeking claims against the bank for the sham accounts, Wells Fargo offered to settle the lawsuit for $110 million, but later raised their offer to $142 million after an investigation found that the practice of opening these sham accounts went back as far as 2002. That revelation prompted the plaintiffs’ attorneys to up their estimate of sham accounts from 2.1 million to 3.5 million, although they may not see a similar increase in the number of plaintiffs, as some plaintiffs allegedly had multiple sham accounts opened in their name.
The settlement amount is in addition to the $185 million Wells Fargo has already been made to pay to regulators after their practice of opening sham accounts on behalf of unsuspecting (and unwilling) customers was revealed. The resignation of the bank’s CEO at the time, John Stumpf, was another result of the scandal. Continue reading