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If Wells Fargo charged you fees for accounts you never authorized, you’re set to get your money back.
Wells Fargo agreed Tuesday to a $110 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought after bank employees opened accounts without customers' consent. The settlement would include repayment of fees as well as “millions of dollars of additional monetary relief,” according to a lawyer in the case.
Keller Rohrback, the law firm representing Wells Fargo customers, filed the suit in federal court in San Francisco last May. The court still has to approve the agreement, which Wells Fargo expects would encompass 11 other class-action lawsuits brought against the national bank.
The latest settlement is in addition to $185 million in penalties paid by the bank to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other government agencies.
Who gets money
The $110 million, after legal and administrative costs, would go directly to customers to reimburse “out-of-pocket losses, such as fees incurred due to unauthorized account openings,” according to Wells Fargo’s news release. Jim Seitz, a spokesman at the bank, confirmed that the settlement would cover more than out-of-pocket losses but said he couldn’t elaborate.
This includes anyone who’s had a Wells Fargo account opened without his or her consent from Jan. 1, 2009, to the date that the settlement gets signed by both the court and Wells Fargo.
If that means you, you don't have to take action yet. Attorneys for Wells Fargo customers will seek preliminary approval of the settlement next month from a federal judge, and then information will be sent to affected customers about benefits of the settlement. Wells Fargo would also release information, including how to submit a claim.
“The $110 million settlement, if approved, will require Wells Fargo to repay the fees charged to class members by Wells Fargo for unauthorized accounts and provide millions of dollars of additional monetary relief to the class,” attorney Derek Loeser said in a statement. Loeser, a partner at Keller Rohrback, helped negotiate the deal.
Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo’s president and CEO, said in a statement, “We want to ensure that each customer impacted by our sales practices issue has every opportunity for remediation, and this agreement presents an additional option."
Over $3 million to customers so far
Since September, Wells Fargo has refunded $3.26 million to customers for fees charged from unauthorized bank accounts and lines of credit, according to Seitz. This is part of the $5 million set aside for customers in the $185 million settlement with government agencies. The refunds have gone to about 130,000 accounts.
The average refund from the bank’s December review of bank accounts and credit cards as far back as May 2011 is $32.41 per customer.
The exact number of people who could receive money under this new settlement couldn’t be confirmed. “We’ve entered into an agreement in principle,” Seitz says. “It would be premature to speculate on the size of the class.”
Wells Fargo’s previous settlement
The $185 million in penalties that Wells Fargo agreed to pay last September to government agencies, including the CFPB, was in response to bank employees opening around 1.5 million bank accounts and roughly half a million credit card accounts for customers without their consent.
The CFPB’s investigation looked at accounts from 2011 to 2015. The bank did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the September settlement.
Wells Fargo also plans to review accounts from 2009 to 2010 that might have been affected.
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