Wells Fargo to pay $3.7B over consumer law violations

Consumer banking giant Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $3.7 billion to settle charges that it harmed customers by charging illegal fees and interest on auto loans and mortgages, as well as incorrectly applying overdraft fees against savings and checking accounts, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Wells was ordered to repay $2 billion to consumers by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which also enacted a $1.7 billion penalty against the San Francisco bank. It’s the largest fine ever leveled against a bank by the CFPB and the largest yet against Wells, which has spent years trying to rehabilitate its image after a series of scandals tied to its sales practices.

The violations impacted more than 16 million customers, the bureau said. In addition to improperly charging auto loan customers with fees and interest, the bank wrongfully repossessed vehicles in some cases. The bank also improperly denied thousands of mortgage loan modifications for homeowners.

Wells Fargo has been sanctioned repeatedly by U.S. regulators for violations of consumer protection laws going back to 2016, when employees were found to have opened millions of accounts illegally in order to meet unrealistic sales goals.

Wells remains under a Federal Reserve order forbidding the bank from growing any larger until the Fed deems that its problems are resolved.