Arbitration Gone Wild!

Posted on Oct 17, 2016 By Ron Sykstus

 

Attorney Ron SykstusI have written previously about binding mandatory arbitration.

Recently, I have written about the scandal at Wells Fargo, which now seems like it is in the news daily.  This is where Wells Fargo created fake accounts for many of their real customers so that they could bleed them for fees and make money on these made up accounts.

Now, in an absolutely crazy and surreal scenario, the Wells Fargo debacle and affected customers may be bound to binding, mandatory arbitration on their fake, made up accounts that they never even authorized due to an arbitration clause that they agreed to on their real accounts.  Crazy? Nonsensical? Infuriating?  Yes, yes and yes!

LA Times Reporter James Rufus Koren puts it this way.  “Open a checking account at Wells Fargo Bank and you’ll have to sign an agreement that says you can’t sue the company — that any disputes have to go to a private arbitrator, not to court.  But what if a Wells Fargo employee then creates a separate, bogus account in your name?  It turns out that arbitration still rules the day. As the San Francisco banking giant faces allegations that its employees regularly created fake accounts to boost sales figures, courts have repeatedly turned away consumers trying to sue over the issue.”

If the arbitration angle wasn’t bad enough, reporter James F. Peltz wrote a recent article about the collateral damage from this scandal as to Wells Fargo’s customers’ credit scores for the fake accounts that they didn’t even open or authorize themselves.  As he noted, “there also is the collateral financial damage caused by the scandal, which involved not only more than 1 million savings and checking accounts, but applications for more than 500,000 credit cards.”  Peltz cited Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, who said Wells Fargo’s customers should not wait for the bank to fix the problem.

“The best thing is to be proactive and they should pull their credit reports, look for unauthorized items and dispute them,” Wu said. She recommended the free site www.annualcreditreport.com, as did Equifax.

“If there’s a Wells Fargo credit card account you think is unauthorized, send a dispute to the big three credit bureaus with a copy to Wells Fargo,” she said.

At this point, all I can do is to shake my head.   If you feel victimized in any way by the Wells Fargo scandal, please contact our office nearest to you to see how we can help you.   This post will help you navigate through any credit report errors or mistakes on your credit reports.

 

 

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