On June 7, a Utah judge will decide whether more than 50 consumers defrauded by banking giant Wells Fargo in its fake account scandal will be forced to pursue claims one by one in a secret arbitration system. Even as the bank’s PR machine loudly trumpets a focus on restoring consumer trust, Wells Fargo is insisting once again that defrauded customers should be barred from having their day in court.
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A recent report from the nonprofit Level Playing Field found just 215 Wells Fargo customers pursued claims against the bank in arbitration since 2009, despite millions of fake accounts exposed by the CFPB. Looking at the numbers, it is not surprising so few consumers file. Of the 48 cases that advanced to a final hearing, only seven consumers in eight years received a dime from Wells Fargo with the bank paying out just $349,549. Indeed, consumers paid more restitution to Wells Fargo in arbitration than the other way around.