More than 500,000 customers scammed for unneeded auto insurance
Imagine a small town in Oklahoma (pop. 20,000- Ada, Anadarko, Chickasha, Lawton, Guthrie, Enid, for example) waking up on Sunday morning to discover all of their cars have disappeared. It's hard to imagine, right? That couldn't happen, could it? Well that's exactly what happened to twenty thousand Wells Fargo customers who purchased a vehicle and then had their vehicles wrongfully repossessed. How could this happen, you ask? The scam from Wells Fargo this month was to fraudulently tack on fees for insurance. That doesn't sound so bad, because surely these consumers needed insurance, right? Well you would be wrong. Wells Fargo decided to add fees for bogus insurance when the customer had already bought their own car insurance.
To suggest that Wells Fargo needs a culture shock at the highest levels would be an understatement.
Rampant wrongdoing at the direction of senior management of Wells Fargo continues with the revelation of this third major consumer fraud on bank customers. Because the story was about to be broken in the press, Wells Fargo publicly admitted on July 29th to having engaged in a multi year, ongoing, unconscionable business practice in the auto finance unit at Wells Fargo. This was the third admission by Wells Fargo in as many months, first in branch banking, next in mortgage loans and now in auto loans.
As a matter of corporate policy, Wells Fargo wrongfully charged one half million of its customers for auto insurance they had already bought and paid for on their own. Many of these customers could not afford to pay the unlawful fees so they were declared by the bank to be “in default” in order to repossess and sell consumers' vehicles.
Wells Fargo is attempting to minimize the criminal nature of its business practices. On its website it released a statement claiming it was going to “Remediate Customers for Auto Insurance Coverage.” The bank's official position is that “Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) today announced a plan to remediate auto loan customers of Wells Fargo Dealers Services who may have been financially harmed due to issues related to auto Collateral Protection Insurance (CPI) policies.”
Lets break down the corporate double speak…
- …“may have been financially harmed”
We charged you for car insurance you did not ask for, did not need, did not have to pay for, and you may potentially have been harmed. We may even have stolen and sold your vehicle… and you may have been harmed. Wells Fargo makes no mention of the devastation that can befall a working family who has their car wrongly repossessed…jobs lost, bills unpaid, marriages and families ruined.
- …“due to issues related to (Wells Fargo) policies”
According to BankPolices.com:
Policy: A policy is a high level overall plan that embraces the general goals and directives of a bank. This type of document, and the related subject matter, requires the approval of senior management and the board of directors.
Wells Fargo admits that it developed a high level operational plan, approved by senior management and the board of directors, to force unneeded and costly insurance onto its borrowers. These borrowers include service members and working families. The goal of the plan was to extract fees and charges to increase profit–all of it unearned. Wells Fargo at the very highest levels developed a plan to steal millions of dollars in fake fees to generate higher profits. This was not so much an “issue” but instead, a conscious choice to steal money from customers, knowing that some would be forced into “default” and that their vehicles would be repossessed and sold at auction.
Wells Fargo claims to have discontinued this insurance program one year ago yet for reasons not explained waited a full year to come forward with the truth. Because Wells Fargo waited a year, time limits for victims to bring an action may be shortened by their delay.
Humphreys Wallace Humphreys PC is one of the few law firms nationwide to have taken Wells Fargo Auto Finance to a jury trial, recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single client. Because Wells Fargo has placed a forced arbitration clause in its finance contracts, you may have to go to arbitration, where you likely will face a deck stacked against you. For more on arbitration, http://www.hwh-law.com/2017/07/14/cfpb-weighs-in-on-arbitration-clauses/
If you have been cheated by Wells Fargo or have questions about your account, you are encouraged to contact our firm for a Free Case Review.