OAKLAND (CN) – A federal class action accuses Wells Fargo of deceptively charging customers for “solutions” to problems they never had, and services they never asked for.
Lead plaintiff Shahriar Jabbari sued the bank Wednesday, claiming it encourages employees to use illegal, fraudulent, deceptive and abusive tactics to open fee-generating accounts by misrepresenting them or not informing customers at all.
Wells Fargo calls the tricks “solutions,” and induces employees to use them by giving them “unrealistic sales quotas,” Jabbari claims.
Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer filed a similar complaint against Wells Fargo last week.
The bank’s abusive “solutions” include hidden fees, adding unwanted secondary accounts to primary accounts without permission, misrepresentations and no representations at all, Jabbari says.
“(T)he bank also routinely opens customer accounts and issues credit cards without the customer’s authorization or knowledge,” the lawsuit states. “Then, when customers fail to maintain mandatory account balances, pay fees for accounts they did not know existed, or comply with some other undisclosed policy, Wells Fargo charges the customer a fee. Often Wells Fargo simply ‘pays’ this resulting fee by taking money from the clients’ existing accounts. Or Wells Fargo sends the ‘debt’ the customers ‘owe’ to a debt collection agency.”
If bank employees fail to meet their quotas, they could lose pay or lose their jobs, Jabbari claims.
“Because the stakes are so high for the employees, and the quotas so difficult, Wells Fargo employees inevitably must resort to using abusive and fraudulent tactics,” he says.
Nor does the bank tell customers if their personal information is compromised in doing all this, according to the complaint.
Wells Fargo spokesman Ancel Martinez said the company will “vigorously” defend itself against the allegations.
“We do not have a system that matches the description in the complaint, and all our systems are designed to comply with applicable laws, including privacy laws,” Martinez said in an email.
“Wells Fargo’s culture is focused on the best interests of its customers and creating a supportive, caring and ethical environment for our team members.”
Jabbari seeks class certification and treble damages for unfair competition, consumer law violations and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting and Customer Records Acts.
He is represented by Matthew Preusch with Keller Rohrback in Santa Barbara.
The Los Angeles city attorney warned customers to pay attention to online accounts and review bank statements for suspicious withdrawals ranging from $25 to $100, according to a statement on Keller Rohrback’s website.
Contact Arvin Temkar at firstname.lastname@example.org
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