Security & Fraud

Warren Slams Wells Fargo Over Error-Riddled Refunds

Wells Fargo is facing new scrutiny, this time over its failed attempts riddled with errors — to repay its customers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Wells Fargo Chief Executive Timothy Sloan, wanting to know what went wrong when Wells Fargo tried to repay customers but ended up botching the effort. Senator Warren asked for answers to nearly a dozen questions and gave Sloan until Feb. 28 to answer. She also gave the bank that deadline to meet its vow to take care of the customers who were victims of the several scandals plaguing the company.

“Wells Fargo remains focused on making things right for our customers,” a spokeswoman told the WSJ. She said the bank is working with its regulators to pay customers back and “will address any questions Senator Warren or her colleagues on Capitol Hill have about these plans underway.” 

The WSJ noted that the questions posed by Senator Warren could provide more details into on how the repayment program will work. Warren took issue with the fact that mortgage customers have to opt in to get the refund by responding via mail. The WSJ cited that Wells Fargo figures half or less will respond by mail, which is the normal rate of response for direct mailings. “What do you intend to do for the victims that do not ‘opt in’ to receive a refund?” Warren asked in her letter.

Wells Fargo is having a tough time making it right for the thousands of people harmed, reportedly sending out communications with wrong information to 38,000 customers who were forced into auto insurance they didn’t want or need. The WSJ previously reported that two individuals briefed on the matter said the bank has even sent refunds to people who weren’t even customers, notified customers of refunds that were in the wrong amounts, and informed some customers that they were getting refunds even though they never had the auto insurance that created the problem.

“We are focused on making things right for our customers and ensuring this large-scale remediation happens correctly and as quickly as possible,” Catherine Pulley, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, told WSJ. Pulley said that an outside vendor in charge of the auto insurance issue found a coding mistake that resulted in the incorrect letters being sent out, and the bank is working with the vendor to make sure “these customers receive the appropriate communication – including any refunds they’re eligible for.”

The spokeswoman confirmed that Wells Fargo sent a check to one non-customer. At the time of the report, Wells Fargo hadn’t even started to issue refunds to as many as 110,000 customers who were charged with fees and high-interest rates in the mortgage department.

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