Bank Watch

Think you’ve been harmed by Wells Fargo’s practices? Here’s what to do

Wells Fargo customers might be wondering what to do if they think they’ve been affected by unsolicited accounts that prompted the bank’s recently announced $185 million fine. Checking account statements and credit reports are among steps customers might want to take.
Wells Fargo customers might be wondering what to do if they think they’ve been affected by unsolicited accounts that prompted the bank’s recently announced $185 million fine. Checking account statements and credit reports are among steps customers might want to take. AP

Wells Fargo customers might be wondering what to do if they think they’ve been affected by unsolicited accounts that prompted the bank’s recently announced $185 million fine. Here are five steps customers might want to take:

1. Check your account statements

Examine your account statements to identify any unauthorized transactions or withdrawals. According to regulators, Wells Fargo employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by customers in order to meet sales goals and collect bonuses. Regulators say the abusive practices stretch back to Jan. 1, 2011.

Wells Fargo disclosed Tuesday that two-thirds of the bad behavior took place in the Southwest.

2. Check your credit report, too

If you haven’t done so in a while, it’s worth taking a look at your credit report. Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, says that will reveal any credit cards you didn’t authorize. In fact, a credit report is one of the few places a consumer can go to learn if a credit card was opened in their name, Schulz said.

“This (settlement) is reason No. 1 million for people to check their credit reports on a regular basis,” he said.

For consumers, wrong information on a credit report can have major implications, from the amount of interest a borrower pays on a loan to a person’s ability to get a job (employers often examine the reports). Schulz said the reports can even factor into a person’s ability to buy a cellphone and rent an apartment.

3. No action needed for refunds

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the regulators that fined Wells Fargo, the bank “must refund all affected consumers the sum of all monthly maintenance fees, nonsufficient fund fees, overdraft charges and other fees they paid because of the creation of the unauthorized accounts.”

The CFPB says customers are not required to take any action to get refunds, which are expected to total at least $2.5 million. Complaints can be submitted to the CFPB by calling (855) 411-2372 or going to consumerfinance.gov/complaint/.

4. Go to www.wellsfargo.com/commitment

Wells Fargo has information on the settlement as well as changes the bank has made to its practices at this website. The website also features a frequently-asked-questions section on the settlement.

5. Look for confirmation emails and letters

Going forward, Wells Fargo says it will send customers an automated email after a checking account or savings account is opened in their name. The bank says it also now sends an application acknowledgment and decision-status letter to customers after they apply for a credit card.

If you receive such notifications in the future but didn’t sign up for those products, you’ll want to contact the bank immediately.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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