Wells Fargo’s bad month has just gotten worse. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) have fined the big bank $24.1 million for allegedly violating the law by repossessing military servicemembers’ cars.
Six months after the Los Angeles City Attorney filed a lawsuit accusing Wells Fargo of a slew of unfair practices — like encouraging employees to open unauthorized consumer accounts and then charging those accounts phony fees to meet sales expectations — two other regulatory agencies have opened investigations into the bank’s behavior. [More]
For the better part of two weeks, thousands of unbanked consumers who rely on prepaid RushCards have been unable to access their funds because of a technical glitch. While the company run by Russell Simmons continues to fix the issue, consumer advocates are pointing at the incident as evidence that federal regulators need to do more to protect prepaid cardholders. [More]
Several federal agencies teamed up like your favorite buddy-cop movie to bring down the bad guy today. In this particular case the bad guy was Citizens Bank, which must now pay a total of $20.5 million in penalties and $11 million in refunds to the owners of accounts it allegedly failed to credit for full amounts of deposited funds. [More]
While mobile banking is no doubt convenient for customers – and banks – there’s a significant downside to the fact that more and more financial institutions are using the technology: an increased risk that your personal information will fall in the hands of a cyber criminal. [More]
Back in 2011, several of the nation’s largest banks entered into a settlement with federal regulators that required the institutions to correct widespread foreclosure abuses that helped to trigger the housing crisis. While the agreement was revised in 2013 to make things a bit easier for the offending banks, regulators today announced that six of the lenders – including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo – still haven’t met requirements and face new restrictions on their mortgage operations.
There’s no doubt that millions of homeowners were the victims of shady foreclosure practices at the country’s biggest banks when the recession hit. So many of those people were likely hoping for a positive resolution to their woes when the government said it was going to figure out how to compensate homeowners with its Independent Foreclosure Review, an investigation into banks’ mistakes in servicing mortgages. But after waiting years for an answer, about three million eligible borrowers will only be seeing checks for between $300 and $500.
The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 requires that FDIC-insured banks be examined and rated on whether or not they are meeting the banking needs in each of the communities in which they are chartered. But a pair of advocacy groups claim Wells Fargo deserves a lowered CRA rating because of loans that smell a lot like payday loans. [More]
The next wave of the credit crisis — the skyrocketing defaults on credit cards — is coming in and odd alliances are being formed. The Consumer Federation of America, along with the Financial Services Roundtable ( a self-described “major player on Capitol Hill and with the regulators” which represents the securities, investment, insurance and banking industries) has requested a “special program that would allow as much as 40 percent of credit card debt to be forgiven for consumers who don’t qualify for existing repayment plans.”
As an aside, WaMu’s charter was under the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS). Chase’s bank regulator is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Whether being a Chase customer was your choice or not, if you ever have a major complaint about Chase regarding what you feel is on the bank’s part malfeasance, you’ll want to send it to the OCC.
Yesterday the FDIC shuttered the 28 branches of the First National Bank of Nevada and the First Heritage Bank. Federal regulators will perform a nifty little magic trick over the weekend, and on Monday, the branches will reopen as Mutual of Omaha Bank. Aren’t bank failures fun?!
Wachovia will pay $144 million for helping telemarketers prey upon the elderly. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency spanked the morally bankrupt institution with one of the largest fines ever levied—but before seeing a penny of settlement money, seniors will need to fill out detailed claim forms and navigate a complex bureaucracy.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wants to consolidate the nation’s financial regulators into a tripartite gang that can save the economy from distress and doom. The plan to give the Federal Reserve broad new regulatory powers and streamline the regulatory community has been in the works since last March, before the start of the subprime meltdown. Paulson is worried that the U.S. markets are no longer competitive with maturing world markets, some of which aren’t hampered by nuisances like regulation. After the jump we’ll explain the consumer impact of the plan and introduce you to your three new regulators.
The New York Times published an editorial damning Congress’ unwillingness to protect consumers from a rising tide of unreasonable fees and penalties that have boosted the financial sector’s bottom line, while impoverishing millions of Americans.