Wells Fargo to pay the Navajo Nation $6.5 million in settlement over 'predatory' practices

Wells Fargo to pay the Navajo Nation $6.5 million in settlement over 'predatory' practices
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Wells Fargo agreed to pay the Navajo Nation $6.5 million to settle claims it used “predatory” practices to defraud the tribe.

The settlement concludes a 2017 lawsuit the Navajo Nation brought against the bank claiming Wells Fargo preyed on it from 2009 to 2016 with practices including opening fake bank accounts, stalking local events and pressuring seniors who did not speak English to pay for unneeded services.

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“Wells Fargo's predatory actions defrauded and harmed the Nation,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement on Thursday announcing the settlement. “This puts other companies on notice that harmful business practices against the Navajo people will not be tolerated.”

The bank has been plagued by several accusations of abuse beyond those raised by the Navajo Nation. Wells Fargo already admitted to forcing borrowers to buy unnecessary auto insurance, hiking mortgage fees for homebuyers and opening millions of fake bank and credit card accounts.

Wells Fargo said in a statement to CNN that the settlement with the Navajo Nation underlines its commitment to earning back customers’ trust.

“Our agreement with the Navajo Nation demonstrates our commitment to make things right regarding past sales practices issues as we continue the important transformation of our company,” it said, adding that it wants to “continue building upon our long-standing relationships with the Navajo Nation and its members.” 

Wells Fargo is still grappling with the fallout from the fake accounts scandal that was uncovered three years ago, saying in March it was in talks with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission about resolving probes into the issue.