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Wells Fargo agrees to refund money taken fraudulently

OW Staff Writer | 10/13/2016, midnight
Bank workers and consumer advocates along with elected officials announced Tuesday that the city of Los Angeles will further prohibit ...

Bank workers and consumer advocates along with elected officials announced Tuesday that the city of Los Angeles will further prohibit the unscrupulous practices of the U.S.’s largest banks thanks to a motion introduced by Councilmember Paul Koretz that will, if approved by the full council “prohibit predatory sales goals by any company doing business with the City of Los Angeles.”

The motion is an addition to the city’s Responsible Banking Ordinance passed in 2012 to protect consumers from foreclosures.

“Attaching sales quotas to banking is bad for consumers and bad for workers; the only ones who profit are the banks themselves,” said Ruth Landaverde, a former Wells Fargo credit manager and Bank of America personal banker, as well as a member of the Committee for Better Banks. “At Wells Fargo, we were forced to push unnecessary mortgage refinancing, auto loans, new accounts and credit cards on customers, and Bank of America required us to open 100 new accounts a month. But by standing together, Los Angeles bank workers like me and consumers who rely on big banks have the power to eliminate predatory practices.”

The action by Koretz follows an action last month, where banking regulators and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced a settlement with Wells Fargo over its illegal sales practices. California State Treasurer John Chiang suspended many of the state’s ties with the bank after Wells Fargo workers and others exposed millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts.

City Attorney Mike Feuer announced last month that Wells Fargo will pay $50 million in penalties to the city and county of Los Angeles, and restitution to customers, as part of a settlement. This amount is was on top of at least $135 million in penalties that the bank has also agreed to pay to two federal agencies over similar allegations.

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf Wednesday stepped down from his post Wednesday following fall-out about its banking practices.

As part of the settlement, if you are one of the thousands of people who incurred fees as a result of an unauthorized Wells Fargo account, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (consumerfiance.gov) has ordered Wells Fargo to refund all of your money. Some payments have already been made; others will be sent in the coming months. Affected customers are not required to take action to get a full refund.

If you suspect that you had an unauthorized account opened, you should visit your local bank branch or call your financial institution.

The bank told news outlets that it had fired 5,300 employees over the last few years related to the shady behavior, which had been a [practice at the financial institution since at least 2011.]

If you are still having an issue, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or call toll-free at (855) 411-2372.

Customers of Wells Fargo or any other bank or credit union should always closely monitor their accounts to make sure they don’t see unauthorized products or account activity.

It is also a good idea to periodically check your credit report. Get a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can receive a free credit report from each nationwide credit reporting company once every 12 months.