Tester Grills Wells Fargo CEO, Slams Deceiving Banking Practices that Hurt Montana Families

Senator: Families Are Going to Be Put into Poverty Because of These Actions

(U.S. Senate)—Senator Jon Tester today grilled the Chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo after the company illegally opened over two million deposit and credit card accounts without customers’ knowledge or consent.

During a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Tester called out Chairman and CEO John Stumpf for jeopardizing the finances of thousands of Americans. Tester specifically asked Stumpf how Wells Fargo will ease the burden they have placed on families who have been forced to pay higher interest rates on loans as a result of negative information that was reported to credit bureaus due to these fraudulent actions.

“If information was sent into credit bureaus because of these falsely opened accounts, the impacts of this are far more than the fees or the fines that are associated with these actions,” Tester said. “The truth is there are real world implications on young and old families that are going to be put in a poverty situations because of these actions.”

Stumpf was unable to provide Tester with a specific answer about how Wells Fargo would rectify the damaged credit reports.

Tester also probed Stumpf on the immediate impact on Wells Fargo customers who incurred annual fees, maintenance fees, interest charges, and overdraft charges as a result of his company’s illegal actions.

Since 2011, Wells Fargo has fired nearly 5,300 employees who profited from:

  • Illegally opening over 2 million deposit and credit card accounts.
  • Transferring funds from customers’ authorized deposit accounts to 1.5 million unauthorized accounts.
  • Applying for 565,000 credit card accounts that were not authorized by customers, but still incurred annual fees and interest charges.
  • Issuing and activating debit cards without consumers’ knowledge that included PIN numbers.
  • Creating fake email addresses to enroll consumers in online-banking services.

“5,300 people are more people than live in most towns in Montana,” Tester added. “Two million is twice the population of the entire state. This is a major screw up that went on for far, far, far too long.”

Wells Fargo has announced it will pay full restitution to all victims who had unauthorized accounts opened in their name. But it remains unclear what will happen to customers who have been forced to pay higher interest rates on loans due to the negative information that was reported to credit bureaus as a result of the illegal actions of Wells Fargo.

Earlier this month the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Los Angeles City Attorney fined Wells Fargo $185 million for their illegal actions that took place between 2011 and 2015.