Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $1.7 billion in fines to settle claims that it engaged in widespread banking violations over the last decade that harmed millions of consumers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Tuesday.
The bank misapplied customer payments on auto loans, wrongfully repossessed some borrowers’ cars and charged overdraft fees even when customers had enough money to cover purchases they made with their bank cards, according to an order filed by the consumer protection bureau. Wells Fargo stopped the conduct this year as part of a larger effort to clean up other abusive practices stretching back a decade, the filing said.
As part of its settlement with the regulator, Wells Fargo has also been repaying customers, returning improperly charged fees and offering some financial relief to those whose finances and credit ratings were hurt by the bank’s practices. The damages are expected to eventually total $2 billion.
“This far-reaching agreement is an important milestone in our work to transform the operating practices at Wells Fargo and to put these issues behind us,” Charles Scharf, Wells Fargo’s chief executive, said in a statement. Wells Fargo is “a different company today,” he added.
The fine also covers improper mortgage and auto loan fees Wells Fargo charged customers, as well as the bank’s practice of freezing customers’ bank accounts too quickly and closing them when automatic fraud detection systems flagged unusual activity. Some of the practices began as early as 2011, but almost all continued well beyond the bank’s initial reckoning with regulators over its widespread violations, which began in 2016.
“Wells Fargo’s rinse-repeat cycle of violating the law has harmed millions of American families,” Rohit Chopra, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s director, said in a statement. “This is an important initial step for accountability and long-term reform of this repeat offender.”
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