After Wells Fargo agreed to fork over $5 million in fines for signing up consumers for accounts they never opened, an Orange County family who fell victim to the misconduct recovered a chunk a money after the NBC4 I-Team helped out.
Lois and Richard Dawson say they’ve been Wells Fargo customers for 30 years; a relationship they just ended because they say the bank cheated them.
“I feel swindled, that’s how I feel. Swindled,” Lois said.
The Dawsons caught a monthly $350 payment coming out of their checking account. They didn’t know what it was for, where it was going, or how long it’d been happening. And they say the bank dodged their questions.
NBC4’s I-Team learned the payments were for a life insurance policy.
“Well I just knew it was bogus. Because I knew we didn’t sign up for anything like that,” she said.
And the Dawsons aren’t alone. California’s Attorney General and Department of Insurance both recently reached settlements with Wells Fargo – a combined $158 million – for signing up consumers for life insurance and other products without their permission. This after the bank paid a $1 billion federal fine last year for defrauding customers.
“I think this case shows very clearly that we still have not uncovered all the fraudulent activity that occurred at Wells,” said Consumer Watchdog’s Carmen Balber.
After the I-Team reached out to Wells Fargo about the Dawsons’ issue, the bank refunded the couple all the premiums they’d paid over the years — nearly $40,000.
The bank didn’t answer NBC4’s requests for answers, but they did say in a statement: “…A decision was made to refund the Dawsons …. We are pleased to resolve the matter.”
The Dawsons have switched banks, and they say this is money they desperately needed.
“It means that I can actually retire and live in my house awhile,” Lois said.
The reason it took the Dawsons so long to catch these automatic payments was because they had several auto payments set up, with most going into investment accounts. They thought this payment was one of those.
The Department of Insurance said Wells Fargo has pledged to give refunds to anyone who didn’t authorize a policy.
Check your bank statements thoroughly, and make sure you know where every auto payment is going.