August 24, 2017
Public Citizen Condemns Another Wells Fargo Attempt to Avoid Accountability to Consumers It Defrauded with Forced Arbitration
Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Public Citizen
Note: Today, Wells Fargo lawyers used their oral arguments at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to make yet another attempt at justifying its misconduct towards defrauded customers. The mega-bank invoked forced arbitration clauses hidden in the fine print of its customer contracts to deny customers their right to challenge the company for fraud as a class. Further, the Republican-led U.S. Senate may soon consider repealing a consumer-friendly Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule that would limit the use of forced arbitration clauses. Wells Fargo argued today that any claims of wrongdoing must be brought one-by-one in a secretive corporate-friendly arbitration system, where the average consumer ends up paying their bank or lender $7,725 rather than receiving justice.
We still don’t know the full extent of Wells Fargo’s years-long campaign to steal from its customers while also deceiving the public and Congress. After today’s court arguments, however, we do know that we can’t hold our breath waiting for the mega-bank to do the right thing. Wells Fargo bilked millions of its customers out of billions of dollars through excessive overdraft fees, and thus far, they have largely avoided responsibility by forcing their customers into a rigged pro-corporate arbitration system and denying them the right to go to court.
Wells Fargo’s motto is, “Together we’ll go far.” That’s not exactly true for its defrauded customers. Only with the CFPB’s new pro-consumer arbitration rule to deal with the worst abuses of arbitration can consumers truly go where they’ve been restricted for years – and that’s inside of a court room as a class shining a light on the company’s abusive practices.