Wells Fargo Customers Accuse Bank Of Fraud, Negligence After Employees Open Fake Accounts

Image courtesy of (Mike Mozart)

Now that Wells Fargo has admitted bank employees opened up more than two million unauthorized accounts, it’s no surprise that customers who may have been hit with fees and charges because of these bogus accounts are firing back at the bank with a lawsuit, but they might never get their day in court. 

CNN reports that three former Wells account-holders filed a potential class-action in a U.S. District Court in Utah on Friday, accusing the bank of fraud, negligence, and breach of contract.

According to the lawsuit, Wells Fargo managers and bankers took part in unethical techniques to improve sales numbers for years starting in Jan. 2011.

While the bank has an average of six accounts per customer, the lawsuit claims that wasn’t enough for employees seeking to reach goals. Instead, the company was pushing to have eight accounts per person.

“Wells Fargo’s resulting market dominance has come at a significant price to the general public, because it has been achieved in large part through an ambitious and strictly enforced sales quota system,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit seeks compensation to cover damages related to identity theft, anxiety and emotional distress, and legal fees, CNN reports.

The question is whether or not these plaintiffs will even be able to have a court hear their case. Wells Fargo is one of the many companies that use arbitration clauses in their customer agreements to prevent customers from filing lawsuits or joining together in class actions.

In May 2015, a California man filed a similar complaint, alleging that Wells had opened up at least seven accounts in his name without authorization. However, four months later, the court granted the bank’s motion to compel arbitration in that case [PDF].

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is currently weighing rules that would limit banks’ ability to use arbitration clauses to block class actions. The rules have yet to be finalized and will most certainly face a legal challenge before they can be enforced.

Wells Fargo sued by customers over fraudulent accounts [CNN]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.