Wells Fargo has already admitted to charging people for overdrawing bank accounts that they didn’t have and for car insurance that they didn’t need. Now, it’s being accused of ripping off vulnerable mom-and-pop businesses.
For several years, Wells Fargo’s merchant services division overcharged small businesses for processing credit card transactions, a lawsuit alleges. Business owners who tried to leave Wells Fargo were charged “massive early termination fees,” according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court.
The “overbilling scheme” targeted less sophisticated businesses by using “deceptive language” in a 63-page contract designed to confuse them, the lawsuit filed on August 4 claims. The lawyer filed court documents to seek class action status.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has ordered the California Department of Insurance to launch an investigation into Wells Fargo and National General Insurance, after Wells Fargo acknowledged that it forced auto insurance on thousands of its car-loan customers.
On July 27, Wells Fargo admitted that it failed to properly manage its collateral insurance protection program and that the blunder resulted in thousands of delinquencies and wrongful vehicle repossessions. The bank said it has allocated $80 million to compensate victims – $64 million for “cash remediation” and $16 million for “account adjustments.”
As part of our ongoing investigation into American Home Shield (AHS), we have reviewed a number of consumer complaints, received through a FOIA request, that claim Wells Fargo added unauthorized charges for AHS home warranties to customers’ Wells Fargo mortgage statements.
In addition to potentially providing another avenue of scrutiny for Wells Fargo, legal experts we spoke with said the complaints could expose AHS to “joint and independent” legal scrutiny from state and federal regulators, litigators, and other entities pursuing action against Wells Fargo for similar sales practice issues.
Unauthorized charges. In response to a FOIA request, the FTC provided us with 32 complaintsfiled in its Consumer Sentinel Network between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012.
Several of the complaints relate to unauthorized monthly charges for AHS home warranties Wells Fargo included on customers’ mortgages. Public complaints posted online as early as 2009 and as late as September of 2013 echo those found in the FTC’s database.
The complaints we reviewed claim Wells Fargo tacked unauthorized charges for AHS home warranties as an “optional product” on customers’ Wells Fargo mortgage statements. Those optional product charges ranged from $33 to $69.11 per month.