Depending on the type of transaction, a consumer can cancel within three days of the initial transaction and receive a full refund...
Stolen or lost personal information such as a social security number, bank account, or a driver’s license number can lead to identity theft. Identity theft is the criminal act of using another person’s private information without consent for some type of financial gain...
Ohio Gets Rid of Wells Fargo
Ohio decided to cut doing business with Wells Fargo due to the recent, unacceptable behavior of creating millions of fake bank accounts with customer names. So far cities in Illinois, Washington, and the Wells Fargo home state of California have already suspended business with the bank for at least one year.
Between 2011 and 2015 Wells Fargo employees created millions of fake bank accounts to meet targeted sales and collect more money in fees from their customers who were unaware of the unauthorized accounts. Wells Fargo’s actions violated the Truth in Lending Act and threatened to destroy their customers credit score.
This month Ohio announced that Wells Fargo is suspended from doing business with the state for at least one year. Wells Fargo mostly participated in funding state bonds in Ohio and is now forbidden to do so because of the loss of trust between the public and the bank. Ohio will now solicit related services from other companies even though Wells Fargo has contributed over $800 million to state bonds in the last couple years. Whether Wells Fargo will be able to gain business with Ohio again after a year will be determined at a later time.
It was settled in September that Wells Fargo will pay $185 million dollars in penalties for their fraudulent acts. Another $5 million dollars will be distributed to customers who are victims of the unlawful act and fee generating accounts.
Wells Fargo Created Millions of Fake Accounts
Wells Fargo created millions of fake bank accounts under consumer names between 2011 and 2015. By doing so, the Wells Fargo bank was able to meet targeted sales and collect more money in fees from their consumers who were unaware of these unauthorized accounts. It is noted that consumers were signed up for checking accounts and credit cards that they never agreed to open and pay fees on. Wells Fargo has said to have dismissed over 5,000 employees regarding this issue, suggesting this was a widespread problem and ingrained in the banks culture.
Over a million fake accounts are estimated to have been created by employees in consumers names. Employees allegedly created fake email addresses and fake pin numbers to enter these accounts into the system. Roughly a quarter of the accounts created without a consumer consent were credit card accounts. These credit card accounts jointly created a little under a half a million dollars in fees including interest charges, overdraft protection fees and annual fees. Wells Fargo does plan to compensate consumers involved in these fraudulent accounts.
So how does a fraudulent bank account effect a consumer?
A bank account developing fees that are going undetected by the consumer can continuously grow causing the consumer to have to pay more once detected. If never detected, then the consumer is accumulating debt. The unauthorized bank accounts also affect a consumers’ credit score as they are missing payments. A drop in credit could affect a consumers’ ability to take out a loan on items such as a car or mortgage for a home.
Wells Fargo creating unauthorized bank accounts violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). TILA expresses that consumers should be made aware of certain information when signing contracts related to credit cards and loans. Wells Fargo employees violated this act by never providing a contract for consumers to sign agreeing to the bank accounts and credit card accounts that were created. More information regarding the TILA can be found in 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet.
Truth In Lending Act
The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) is a federal law legislated on May 29, 1968 under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The TILA was created to protect consumers involved in contracts with credited purchases with creditors and lenders. Essentially the TILA act enforces loan companies and credit card companies to provide all information regarding interest rates and other fees before a consumer agrees to borrow.
TILA covers open-ended credit and close-ended credit. Open-ended credit includes borrowed funds such as credit cards, debit cards and home equity loans. Examples of close-ended credit include auto loans and home mortgages. Information regarding terms of an Annual Percentage Rate (APR), the total amount offered in a loan and the frequency of due dates to repay the loan is now obligatory for the loaner to provide to the consumer under this act. The dispense of required information now allows consumers to be aware of contracts, costs of credit and so-called hidden fees. Consumers are also able to be more confident and comfortable agreeing to credit related contracts because they can use the provided information to compare a variety of loans or borrowed money.
Failure of cooperation by a loaner or creditor to provide the required information to the consumer can result in rescission in certain instances. The loan or credit transaction would be disentangled and canceled, and all fees and paid money would be returned back to the consumer in a rescission. Lenders and credit companies are more disposed and willing to provide the required information based on TILA due to the amount of loss which could generated during a rescission.
You can find out more information about the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) regarding home owners and foreclosure by reading 23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How to Beat the Bank by Troy Doucet.
Wells Fargo Admits to Wrongful Conduct in Mortgage
Wells Fargo, a multinational banking and financial services holding company, admitted wrongdoing by proffering judgment in a federal lawsuit filed by Doucet & Associates on behalf of its client, a Westerville homeowner. Wells Fargo confessed to the lawsuit’s allegations and paid the homeowner money for the wrongful conduct.
In 2009, the homeowner accepted a promissory note and a mortgage in order to create a security interest in his home. During this time Landstar Title, LLC, APR Mortgage Corporation, Century Mortgage Company of Kentucky, and Prominent Title Agency, LLC, allegedly improperly set up an affiliate relationship (sharing profits from the real estate settlement). The homeowner alleged they did not properly inform the homeowner of this profit sharing, meaning he alleged all monies that changed hands were illegal kickbacks.
Later in 2012, the homeowner informed Wells Fargo that he wished to cancel his mortgage loan transaction under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) on the basis of the non-disclosure of payments between the title company and mortgage company. Wells Fargo failed to honor this request, and in doing so violated the Truth in Lending Act.
The homeowner sought the cancellation of his mortgage loan be honored and that the security interest on his property be terminated. He also sought actual, statutory, and punitive damages in addition to injunctive relief to ensure these actions would not happen again, and wished to ensure these dealings did not affect his credit score.
Wells Fargo, in response, admitted wrongdoing and offered the homeowner cash in damages, which he accepted.
Doucet & Associates is dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers, protecting their interests and offering legal assistance to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. If you feel that a company is taking advantage of you, the law firm welcomes your call at (614) 944-5219.
Best Foreclosure Defense Available to Consumers
TILA rescission is one of the best statutory consumer foreclosure defense because it enables homeowners to unwind their entire mortgage transaction and get a refund of nearly all money paid to the lender, including monthly interest and closing costs. A subset of TILA, called HOEPA, offers even greater benefits that can generate substantial damages for the homeowner.
To qualify, the loan must have been used for your primary residence and not be older than 3 years old (HOEPA loans can be longer). Most importantly, the loan must have been used to refinance the home. That is, the loan must be a refinance under three years old. If those things apply, you should have your loan evaluated for TILA rescission based on faulty disclosures.