Wells Fargo Must Do More to Repay Cheated Auto Insureds, Says U.S. Comptroller

By and | October 3, 2018

Wells Fargo & Co. has not convinced U.S. regulators it is doing enough to repay 600,000 drivers who were wrongly pushed into buying auto insurance, a leading bank regulator said on Tuesday.

“We are not comfortable where we are with them,” Joseph Otting, the Comptroller of the Currency, said at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.

In a statement, the bank declined to comment on Otting’s remarks specifically, but said it was working with regulators to repay drivers. “We regret how this issue has impacted our customers,” the fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets said in a statement.

Otting’s office this summer rejected Wells Fargo’s plan to repay customers who were pushed into unnecessary auto insurance and told the bank it must do more to find and compensate every driver who was hurt, Reuters reported in September.

The rejection was the latest setback for Wells Fargo which has been rocked by two years of scandals over its sales practices.

In September 2016, the bank paid a $190 million fine after admitting employees had opened perhaps millions of phony customer accounts to hit sales goals.

In April, the bank paid a $1 billion fine to U.S. regulators for auto insurance and mortgage lending abuses and promised to make sure customers were repaid.

Drivers who bought a car with a loan from Wells Fargo and let their insurance lapse could be charged for “forced-place” policies. The bank enrolled about 2 million drivers into such policies and more than a quarter of those were not needed, officials have said.

The OCC does not have a deadline for when it must approve the plan, but Wells Fargo cannot finish its work without that all-clear from regulators.

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz asked Otting when Wells Fargo customers should expect a refund for the faulty charges.

“I don’t have the particular date in front of me,” Otting said, but he said he trusts OCC employees to push the bank to get the job done correctly.

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