Wells Fargo Tries to Make Amends

If you were a victim of its fraudulent activities, take the initiative to claim your money.

Once again, Wells Fargo is opening its checkbook to compensate consumers, this time for charging customers excessive mortgage fees or for car insurance they didn't need. But if you think you're eligible for restitution, prepare to be persistent.

Under a settlement reached in April, the bank is paying $1 billion in fines to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Half of that money goes to a CFPB fund earmarked for compensating consumers. But regulators left it to Wells Fargo to develop a plan for how—and how much—to repay customers.

More than 500,000 customers who had a Wells Fargo auto loan and had car insurance through a different company between October 2005 and September 2016 were charged insurance premiums by Wells Fargo. And from September 2013 to February 2017, more than 100,000 mortgage holders were hit with a fee (often topping $1,000) to lock in an interest rate when the bank delayed their loan.

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Refunds are in the mail for some auto-loan borrowers and mortgage holders who complained, but details about the repayment process are still emerging. If you think you were fleeced, check your account statements for unexpected charges and fees and submit copies of the documents to Wells Fargo, says Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer advocacy group. Follow up with the bank if you don't get a response.

Kaitlin Pitsker
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Pitsker joined Kiplinger in the summer of 2012. Previously, she interned at the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., and with Chronogram magazine in Kingston, N.Y. She holds a BS in magazine journalism from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.