Stop the next Wells Fargo scandal before it happens

What’s the biggest criminal enterprise in California? MS-13? The remnants or successors to the Crips and the Bloods? The Mexican Mafia? If we’re talking about the sheer volume of offenses, the answer is clear: Wells Fargo.

It’s no easy task to keep track of the San Francisco-based megabank’s misdeeds, but here’s a rough tally: Wells has admitted that, beginning in 2011, it opened approximately 2 million bank and credit card accounts for customers who did not need, seek or even know about them, plunging a number of these unknowing customers into default. Earlier this month, the bank announced it may have “significantly” undercounted the number of unauthorized accounts. Goldman Sachs estimated last year that more than half-a-million of the customers who’d been saddled with these accounts may have had to pay an extra $50 million to borrow money as a result of their damaged credit.

This July, Wells also acknowledged that, starting in 2012, it had charged a further 570,000 customers for auto insurance that they neither needed nor sought, pushing 274,000 of them into delinquency on their combined car-and-insurance payments, which led to nearly 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions.

Just last Thursday, attorneys for the bank argued in an Atlanta federal appellate court that the judges should toss a lower-court ruling enabling customers to file a class-action suit against Wells for altering the sequence of its customers’ deposits, withdrawals and payments so that it could charge them higher overdraft fees. While other major banks have settled such claims, Wells contends that its bilked customers have no right to sue as a group, and that they must go through an individual arbitration process that will likely cost them more in legal fees than any reward they may receive.

Read the rest of the article at the LA Times.