Indiana gets share of $575 million Wells Fargo settlement

Indiana is set to receive $5.2 million of a $575 million nationwide legal settlement with one of the country’s largest banks.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office announced Dec. 28 that the Hoosier State would receive payment from a settlement involving Wells Fargo & Co., all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Wells Fargo was accused of violating state consumer protection laws when it:

• opened millions of unauthorized accounts and enrolled customers into online banking services without their knowledge or consent;

• improperly referred customers for enrollment in third-party renters and life insurance policies;

• improperly charged auto loan customers for force-placed and unnecessary collateral protection insurance;

• failed to ensure that customers received refunds of unearned premiums on certain optional auto finance products, and;

• incorrectly charged customers for mortgage rate lock extension fees.

“Such grossly unfair and deceptive trade practices as those demonstrated by Wells Fargo must never be allowed to stand,” Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said in a statement. “We must continue working tirelessly to hold companies accountable for engaging in blatant misconduct that harms consumers.”

The bank identified that more than 3.5 million customer accounts that were opened, funds transferred, credit card applications filed, and debit cards issued without the customer’s knowledge or consent. As part of the settlement, Wells Fargo will create a consumer redress review program through which consumers who have not been made whole through other restitution programs already in place can seek review of their inquiry or complaint by a bank escalation team for possible relief.

That program will be implemented within 60 days. The bank will also create and maintain a website for consumers to use to access the program and will provide periodic reports to the states about ongoing restitution efforts.

According to Hill’s office, Wells Fargo has committed to or provided more than $600 million of restitution to consumers through its agreements with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bank will pay more than $1 billion in civil penalties to the federal government.

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