Wells Fargo Settles Privacy Case for $8.5M

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Wells Fargo Bank will pay $8.5 million to settle California’s consumer protection lawsuit accusing it of failing to tell customers it recorded their phone calls.
     District attorneys in Los Angeles and San Diego counties sued the bank in Superior Court on Feb. 22, claiming Wells Fargo did not “timely and adequately disclose its automatic recording of phone calls.”
     California law requires that each party in a confidential conversation must be advised at the outset if a call is being recorded so they can reject or end the call if they do not want to be recorded.
     San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the settlement was a joint effort of her office and consumer protection units in Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura and Alameda counties.
     “Preserving an individual’s right to privacy is among the greatest challenges we face in the Digital Age. This settlement underscores our office’s commitment to protecting San Diego County consumers from intrusions and privacy violations in the marketplace,” Dumanis said in a statement.
     Wells Fargo did not admit liability but agreed to notify customers in clear disclosures.
     The agreement requires changes in the bank’s nationwide policies and a yearlong internal compliance program.
     The bank agreed to pay $7.6 million in civil penalties and $384,000 for the cost of the investigation.
     Wells Fargo also agreed to contribute $500,000 to two consumer protection and privacy rights agencies, in lieu of tracking down the people who may have been recorded without consent.

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