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Wells Fargo Played Customers
Published:
9/14/2016 1:16:23 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 
 

Wells Fargo was fined $185 million including a $100 million penalty from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for opening fraudulent accounts. According to the New York Times, this is the largest penalty of its kind issued by the agency. Wells Fargo has been engaging in this practice since 2011 and over 5,000 employees were involved and fired. What is so mind-boggling about Wells Fargo’s shenanigans is the number of employees involved and the length of time these practices were allowed to take place. Oh, I am sure it was no secret within the organization.

So, what’s up with Wells Fargo and its deceitful tactics to defraud customers? Since I am a long time transitional customer from Wachovia to Wells Fargo, when Wachovia was taken over by Wells Fargo, I have a big problem with that. I have a problem with big businesses biting the hands that feed them and not only biting the hands but also using deceptive practices while preying on the innocent and poor.

If you can’t trust your bank, move your money. Speaking of moving your money, I have been suspect of Wells Fargo for quite some time now. I have questionably observed the time automatic deposits were posted to my accounts. Under Wachovia, those postings were done the previous day and I had access. Under Wells Fargo, those account postings were often done at the last minute allowing the bank to use the funds longer while racking up billions of dollars on customers’ money. Sure banks are in the business of making money. I get that! But, why does it have to be triple dipping? Banks already charged exorbitant fees and interests on most transactions and now fees and interests on bogus accounts? Give me a break!

According to PBS.org., in 2012 Wells Fargo paid out “$175 million to settle accusations that it had discriminated against Black and Hispanic homeowners and targeted minorities for high-interest subprime mortgages.” This is the second time in less than a month that Wells Fargo made the news regarding overcharging its customers. Wells Fargo was also fined for overcharging customers on Student Loan payments. Once again, parents and students find themselves victims of Wells Fargo as they face years of student loan repayments with excessive interests and fines that make it impossible for them to live the American dream. Wells Fargo will have to repay some $400,000 in late fees to borrowers and a $3.6 million civil penalty. I know no one asked me but I think the $3.6 million penalty should be reserved in favor of the borrowers. That will teach them a lesson. If you think for one minute that these penalties are not going to be recouped from its customers and shareholders, think again.

Wells Fargo executive, Carrie Tolstedt, who was in charge of the department that set up the bogus accounts will leave with a whopping $124.6 million dollars. Unbelievable! Tolstedt was recently praised by CEO John Stumpf as a “standard-bearer” for the bank. Now, if that is not grinding salt in the wound, I don’t know what else is. According to Fortune news report, Wells Fargo CEO Stumpf applauded Tolstedt in July while the deceptive credit card and fake accounts were under investigation as a “standard-bearer of our culture” and a “champion for our customers”. Wells Fargo’s standards are certainly not my standards and I don’t think they are of most consumers of their services.

Folks work hard for their money and still can’t rub two coins together. Old folk used to say “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. Wells Fargo’s deception was unfair and unscrupulous to the most vulnerable among us. Perhaps the bank can benefit from a Business 101 lesson on Honesty—honesty is always a good model utilizing best business practices. And, what happens to Carrie Tolstedt who plied her “cross-selling” scheme on unsuspecting customers that raked in billions of dollars for the bank? She gets to ride off into the sunset with her ridiculous check, bonus, stock options, health insurance, etc., and the shareholders are left holding the bag.

After all, as big as the fines may seem, the profit far outweighs the loss. I would advise Wells Fargo account holders to check and request print-outs on all accounts. Be sure to demand accountability and transparency. I must admit, some of us got played.
 

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