Sac Bee Editorial: If Wells Fargo wants to apologize, it should back this legislation

Monday, April 24, 2017

After getting nailed for opening bogus accounts without customers’ knowledge, you might think – if only as penance – that Wells Fargo would bless legislation aimed at ensuring that financial institutions never again engage in such predatory practices. Think again.

One of the ways the big San Francisco-based bank has sought to avoid full responsibility for its now-infamous ripoff has been to try to prevent its victims from suing. Many of those Wells Fargo had targeted were customers with legitimate accounts, whom the bank signed up for new credit cards and accounts without authorization or, in some cases, their knowledge.

Like many corporations, Wells Fargo had tucked broad arbitration clauses into the fine print of those legitimate accounts, and after the scandal, the bank invoked them to claim that disputes over the unauthorized accounts also must be resolved in secret arbitration proceedings, not taken to court.

Incredibly, some courts have sided with Wells Fargo; that’s how far the law now leans in favor of corporations. California Treasurer John Chiang and Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, are responding with Senate Bill 33.

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