Trying to avoid being ripped off in the digital world can sometimes feel like a full-time job. That's because cybercriminals across the globe are constantly tricking new victims with scams.
It's bad enough fending off scammers. The last thing we need is to worry about institutions that we're supposed to be able to trust. Unfortunately, one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. has been caught illegally charging its customers fees. Are you one of them?
Millions of fraudulent Wells Fargo accounts discovered
Have you heard about the Wells Fargo scandal that made headlines last year? Millions of bank accounts were opened by thousands of its employees without the customers knowing. Some of those customers were charged fees associated with the unauthorized accounts.
The original number of fraudulent accounts was thought to be 2.1 million. Wells Fargo announced this week that after a third-party investigation, that number is actually 3.5 million. That's almost a 70 percent increase over the original estimate. Yikes!
The investigation turned up even more bad news. On top of fraudulent accounts being created, some customers were enrolled in the bank's online bill pay services without their authorization. Approximately 528,000 customers were impacted by this and some incurred fees or charges.
What you need to do now
Wells Fargo has admitted that employees actually did this to meet their aggressive sales goals. Now, the company is trying to make things right with its customers.
Here is a summary of its customer remediation actions:
- Third-party account review (January 2009 - September 2016) - $7 million in refunds of fees and interest (paid or to be paid)
- Wells Fargo customer outreach (complaints process/mediation) - $3.7 million in compensation paid (through July 2017)
- Class-action settlement (May 1, 2002 - April 20, 2017) - $142 million for customer remediation and settlement expenses
Over the next two months, both Wells Fargo and the court-appointed claims administrator will be sending communications about how to join the class action to current and former Wells Fargo customers. Click here for details related to the settlement. If you believe you're impacted by this you can register to be part of the class action settlement by clicking here.
For customers who believe they had an unauthorized account or service opened in their name, regardless of when the issue occurred, call Wells Fargo's dedicated hotline at 1-877-924-8697.
The company isn't completely out of the woods yet. Investigations by the Justice Department and state attorneys general are ongoing. Keep checking in with our Happening Now section for further updates.