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- Wells Fargo owes some of its customers money.
- Until July 7, Wells Fargo clients affected by Wells Fargo's fraudulent account scandal can join a class action settlement.
- Wells Fargo is paying $142 million to settle a number of lawsuits related to the scandal.
Wells Fargo might owe you money.
The bank is currently undergoing a class action settlement over the roughly 3.5 million unauthorized accounts its employees opened in the name of unsuspecting clients from 2009 to 2016. Wells Fargo is due to shell out $142 million to those affected by the scandal, some of whom were hit with fraudulent fees and dinged credit scores.
The bank has also sent out a number of statements about the class action settlement to clients (full disclosure, I get these alerts because I'm a Wells Fargo customer).
"If you believe Wells Fargo opened a checking, savings, credit card, or line of credit account for you without your permission, or if you purchased identity theft protection from us, you may be entitled to compensation from this fund," reads a statement emailed to customers on April 20. "If you submit a claim, you may be eligible for reimbursement of fees, compensation for potential impact on your credit, and an additional cash payment based on any money remaining in the fund after benefits and costs are paid out."
How to file a claim with Wells Fargo over fraudulent accounts
People who are ready to file a claim can do so on the class settlement's website.
A Wells Fargo spokesperson told Business Insider that customers with specific questions about accounts can visit their local Wells Fargo or give 1-800-869-3557 — the bank's customer service line — a ring at any time. The Wells Fargo Unauthorized Accounts Settlement website also has a number: 1‑866‑431‑8549. The bank spokesperson added that the bank is maintaining a database of closed accounts going all the way back to May 2002.
Rief Kanan, the director of The Business Institute at the State University of New York at New Paltz, told Business Insider said his best advice for Wells Fargo customers affected by the fraudulent accounts would be to contact the bank.
"My suspicion would be that they are bending over backwards for customers — to make sure a customer knows all of the details of their accounts and what to do in order to close unauthorized accounts, and how to get restitution if there's any restitution necessary," he told Business Insider.
Kanan added that Wells Fargo is especially inclined to restore its pre-scandal reputation, which, he said was "squeaky clean" for a "behemoth bank."
Wells Fargo customers have until July 7 to file a claim
Wells Fargo customers who had unauthorized accounts opened in their names should have already received notifications — and in some cases financial compensation — from the bank. Customers who have already received a payment can still file a claim as part of the class action settlement.
The bank has extended the deadline to take part in the settlement to July 7, 2018. For affected customers who wish to exclude themselves from the settlement in order to file their own suit against Wells Fargo, the deadline to get out of the class action settlement is May 14, 2018.
Affected clients who file a claim will receive compensation based on the financial impact the scandal had on your life, according to NPR.
USA Today reported that the bank previously refunded $3.7 million to customers from September 2016 and July 2017, in compensation for "bank account fees charged on unauthorized accounts and lines of credit." The New York Times reported that the bank will also pay $1 billion to federal regulators over its practices regarding auto insurance and mortgages.
Check your credit report for unauthorized accounts if you haven't already
If you aren't sure whether unauthorized accounts were opened in your name, you can click over to the The Federal Trade Commission's annual credit report website. It allows you to obtain a credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can check the report for fraudulent accounts.
Kanan said that it's impossible to say whether or not other major banks could be sitting on similar fraudulent activities.
"If major banks didn't take a look inside their operations and say, 'Could this be going on in our organization?' they've made a bad mistake," Kanan said. "It's the kind of thing where if you're the CEO of Bank of America and you witness what happened to Wells Fargo, you go to your senior people and say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, could this be going on in our organization? If so, let's make sure it's stopped and remedied immediately.' I would be surprised if that conversation didn't go on in the C-suites."
Are you a Wells Fargo employee with a story to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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