National Consumers League

NCL joins groups supporting Justice for Victims of Fraud Act of 2016


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December 7, 2016

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, cindyh@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC--The National Consumers League has announced it support for legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs – and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman – a member of the House Financial Services Committee to prevent Wells Fargo bank from hiding behind its own forced arbitration clauses to duck responsibility for its fraudulent conduct.

Wells Fargo has been embroiled in a scandal since revelations surfaced that its employees had secretly opened roughly 1.5 million bank accounts and issued 565,000 credit cards without customers’ consent. According to the legislation, Wells Fargo is now using the forced arbitration clauses it tucked away in the fine print of contracts customers signed when they opened legitimate accounts to block them from suing over the fraudulent accounts.

“Wells Fargo’s tactics give new meaning to the word 'chutzpah,'” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “The bank commits massive fraud and then refuses to take responsibility for it, claiming consumers signed away their rights through forced arbitration. If ever the ‘doctrine of unclean hands’ applies, it is here. Regulators and the courts must not allow the bank to engage in this scandalous behavior. Consumers must be protected and NCL fully supports the to ensure victims are afforded their rights under the law and not subject to a dubious forced arbitration clause.”

Warner’s bill, Justice for Victims of Fraud Act of 2016, would allow victims of Wells Fargo’s fraud to seek their day in court even if they signed contracts that included arbitration for their legitimate accounts in the past.

NCL is joined by endorsements by: The American Association for Justice, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients), Americans for Financial Reform, the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Media Voices for Children, Allied Progress, the Woodstock Institute, the Franciscan Action Network, the Economic Policy Institute Center, California Reinvestment Coalition, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and Public Justice.

The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Robert Casey (D-PA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.