Wells Fargo recently paid substantial fines for millions of dollars after allegedly deceiving customers by opening up accounts they never requested so the bank could collect fees. Despite copious evidence of theft, no criminal charges were ever filed.
Now, the bank is accused of arbitrarily closing customer accounts that individuals really needed, leaving them without access to their money. Here again, there is no discussion of criminal charges.
The bank reportedly revealed in a regulatory disclosure that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is exploring claims of financial misconduct pertaining to its depositors and borrowers. Among those are complaints from customers who say they endured financial hardship over the last several years after the bank suddenly closed or froze their accounts – a move they were not expecting.
In some instances, complainants alleged there were a number of phony deposits from an unknown origin. Others alleged they were victims of identity theft, with the bank responding by not only closing their account, but by refusing to reopen them or open new ones. One consumer said after a hacker altered her personal information, the bank closed her account and began sending funds that would normally be deposited into that account to the wrong address.
The common thread among complainants was that they were desperate for answers as to why their accounts were closed and how they could get access to money they needed for bills – yet the bank’s customer service was of no help.
One woman reported she moved money from her mother’s savings account to her mother’s checking account the day before her mother passed away. The account was subsequently flagged by the bank’s fraud department and locked. Without access to that money, the woman says, her mother’s debts became delinquent and her home is at risk of going into foreclosure.
So far, similar issues have not been reported at other banks in recent quarterly filings, though that is not to say they couldn’t crop up.
Wells Fargo frequently finds itself in hot water with regard to consumer rights. Last year, it was revealed the bank opened more than 2 million accounts in consumer’s names without their consent. The bank has also come under fire for charging a host of unnecessary fees on mortgages and charged consumers for insurance they never requested. The bank has also been cited for wrongly including products such as identity theft protection onto consumer accounts when those services and products were never requested.
In fairness, banks are grappling with a growing number of scams. Regulators – in particular the U.S. Treasury Department – require banks to take a proactive approach to ferreting out problems with money laundering, fraud, identity theft and other crimes. However, protecting consumers against suspicious activity shouldn’t mean locking them out of their accounts or charging them for products they don’t need.
Our consumer rights attorneys in Miami at Jacobs Keeley are committed to helping bank customers who have been wronged by the careless and overzealous tactics of banks that in turn harm consumers’ financial bottom line.
If you’re battling debt collection in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs|Keeley for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday at 5 p.m. on “Debt Warriors with Bruce Jacobs and Court Keeley,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.
Wells Fargo troubles shift from phony bank accounts to real ones, Aug. 18, 2017, By Dan Freed, Reuters
More Blog Entries:
Report: Wells Fargo Imposed Home Warranties on Unsuspecting Mortgage Customers, Aug. 22, 2017, Miami Consumer Rights Attorney Blog