Did Wells Fargo Steal Your Identity?
Don’t Cash Unsolicited $25 Refund Without Speaking to a Lawyer First!
In a “widespread, illegal” scam, Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s largest banks, may have stolen your identity and profited from it. In Florida alone, there are nearly 650 Wells Fargo bank branches. Millions of customers are affected by this nation-wide scandal. Some 5,300 employees have been fired for opening bogus accounts by stealing their customers’ identity over the past five years.
Federal regulators recently busted the bank for fraudulently opening more than 2 million fake accounts and charging fees on roughly 565,000 credit cards that were opened up without Wells Fargo’s customers’ permission and knowledge.
Here’s How Wells Fargo was Scamming its Own Customers
More than 5,000 Wells Fargo employees were tied to a scam that has been promulgated since 2011. Employees blame the bank for putting them under intense pressure to meet sales goals. Wells Fargo is famous for cross-selling products to its customers. Pushing credit cards on checking account holders and vice versa. Carrie Tolstedt, the Wells Fargo executive in charge of the unit, is set to retire with $124 million in stock and options.
Most of this fraud went unnoticed because the bank employees closed the bogus accounts shortly after opening them. Here’s how it worked: a bank employee would secretly open a new account in your name with a small amount of your money, charge the coinciding bank fee, then close the account and move your money back to the original account. However, some customers received notice when new debit and credit cards started arriving in the US mail.
According to Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer, a lawsuit filed in May 2015, on behalf of The People of the State of California, uncovered hundreds of thousands of unauthorized bank accounts opened on behalf of unknowing customers. These accounts were not only unauthorized, but caused customers to incur unwanted fees and other negative financial consequences. As a result, Wells Fargo has agreed to a settlement with the People of the State of California to pay restitution to those customers affected by the illegal activity along with fines exceeding $185 million.
Interestingly enough, the Proposed Stipulated Final Judgment (“PSFJ”) allows customers affected by the unauthorized activities to also retain their legal rights to further “[pursue] losses not fully compensated under this [PSFJ].” It also appears the lawsuit does not impact customers affected outside of California, such as those located in places such as Florida.
According to the New York Times, one customer in California had seven accounts he never consented to. He told authorities that when he asked the bank what to do with the three new debt cards he did not authorize, a bank employee told him to “dispose of them.”
What do you do next?
Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $2.6 million to affected customers. This averages to about $25 per unsolicited refund check. Most checks will arrive in October but some have already been mailed out.
If you are a Wells Fargo customer and believe you may be affected by this illegal activity, we encourage you to immediately contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.
How do you know if your identity was stolen?
Wells Fargo says it will notify its victims but don’t wait. It is always recommended that you review your bank account statements for any unauthorized transactions and withdrawals at least once a month. In addition, always look at your credit reports for any accounts or activity you do not recognize – as in this case, you could be a victim of fraud.
If you think you’re a victim of Wells Fargo’s unethical activity, or any identity theft scam, call your lawyers at the Shiner Law Group at (561) 777-7700 or schedule a consultation online. Our experienced and aggressive consumer rights attorneys will fight for you and get the full compensation you deserve.