Florida Office of the Attorney General issued the following announcement on Dec. 28.
Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that Florida will receive $28 million as part of a multimillion, multistate settlement entered with Wells Fargo Bank N.A. to resolve claims that the bank violated state consumer protection laws, among other laws. The payment is part of a comprehensive $575 million 50-state settlement with the bank.
“These widespread acts by Wells Fargo were outrageous violations of customer trust and privacy,” Attorney General Bondi said. “Opening bank accounts and signing customers up for unnecessary services without their knowledge or consent and charging customers for unnecessary insurance and interest rate extension fees is not only unconscionable, in many cases, it significantly impacted consumers financially.”
The states alleged that Wells Fargo opened millions of unauthorized accounts and enrolled customers into online banking services without customers’ knowledge or consent. The bank also improperly referred customers for enrollment in third-party renters and life insurance policies and improperly charged auto loan customers for force-placed and unnecessary collateral protection insurance. Finally, Wells Fargo failed to ensure that customers received refunds of unearned premiums on certain optional auto finance products, and incorrectly charged customers for mortgage rate lock extension fees.
$27 million of Florida’s share will be applied as a civil penalty, and the remainder is to be used for investigative costs, attorney’s fees, and future enforcement. To date, this settlement represents the most significant engagement of a national bank by state attorneys general acting without a federal law enforcement partner.
Under the settlement, Wells Fargo will create a consumer redress review program for consumers that are not whole from other already established restitution programs and can seek review of inquiries or complaints by a bank escalation team for possible relief. More information on the redress review program, including Wells Fargo escalation phone numbers and the Wells Fargo dedicated website address for the program, will be available on or before Feb. 26, 2019.
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