A group of Southland residents who bank at Wells Fargo are fed up with the bank’s lack of effort to either close accounts that they say are unwanted or modify “predatory” mortgage loans. The group is demanding a meeting with the bank’s CEO.
According to KNX 1070, customers showed up at the branch at 1600 Vine Street in Hollywood to protest what they say has been Wells Fargo’s involvement in improper foreclosures and consumer fraud tied to fraudulent accounts. The San Francisco-based lender has a long history of complaints by consumers, including lending discrimination, unethical sales tactics, and fraudulent mortgage loans.
One customer reported having a second Wells Fargo savings account opened in her name after explicitly telling the sales associate she was not interested. In May, there were numerous reports of the bank opening accounts and charging fees without customer consent.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a lawsuit in state court, alleging that Wells Fargo forced bank branch employees to meet sales goals the company knew could not be achieved without the use of illegal tactics.
These tactics include opening customer accounts without their knowledge in order to meet quotas for a Wells Fargo initiative known as “Gr-eight,” which seeks to increase the number of Wells Fargo accounts per household to eight, according to the complaint.
The “Gr-eight” campaign also leads to customers being enrolled in online banking without their consent and being incorrectly informed that certain services only come as part of a package, forcing customers to buy unwanted products as a means of achieving sales targets, prosecutors says.
Customers who were unaware of the accounts and continued to be charged fees ended up in overdraft situations. City prosecutors filed a civil complaint, alleging Wells knowingly opened authorized accounts, and the bogus fees resulted in damage to their credit.
The group wants Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf to take responsibility and acknowledge the damage caused by his bank. Gisele Mata, one of the organizers of the Alliance of California for Community Empowerment said Stumpf owes it to customers to make it right.
“All we want to do is sit down with John Stumpf and find out what the heck is gonna change to make our city better and our community stronger,” Mata said.
So far there has been no response or comment from Wells Fargo.