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Navajo Nation Sues Wells Fargo

Navajo Nation Sues Wells Fargo
December 13
08:52 2017

The Navajo Nation has filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo claiming predatory and unlawful banking practices.

The tribe’s lawyer has been authorized to seek restitution, damages nd civil penalties, according to Navajo President Russell Begaye. The suit claims that Wells Fargo has violated federal, state and tribal laws.

The tribe alleges employees at Wells Fargo branches on the vast reservation “routinely misled customers into opening unnecessary accounts and obtained debit and credit cards without customers’ consent.”

The suit also claims that tribal elders were “purposely confused and deceived” into buying products simply to help employees reach a quota.

The suit, filed in a federal court in New Mexico, said “since at least 2009 and continuing through 2016, Wells Fargo employees at branches on the Navajo Nation routinely opened unauthorized savings and credit accounts, misled customers into opening unnecessary accounts, obtained debit cards without customers’ consent, and enrolled customers in online banking without proper consent.”

The tribe said that elderly Navajos who didn’t speak English were told that they could not cash checks unless they opened savings accounts.

The tribe also alleges that bank employees stalked basketball games and flea markets to sign up new customers. Some, according to the suit, were underage and Wells Fargo employees altered birth dates to avoid needing parental consent.

Wells Fargo officials did not comment on the suit.

Wells Fargo has five bank branches across the Navajo Nation – which covers more than 27,000 square miles over portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico – plus 12 other branches within a 30-minute drive of the reservation.

Last year Wells Fargo was fined $185 million by federal regulators for opening up accounts and obtaining debit cards without consumers’ knowledge.

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