Regulators have approved Wells Fargo’s $17.85 million deal to settle lawsuits accusing the bank of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a law designed by Congress to protect consumers from receiving unwanted communications without prior consent.
Wells Fargo has agreed to pay a nationwide class of 440,000 consumers who claim they received automated calls from the bank despite not being Wells Fargo customers, according to documents filed in Illinois federal court.
The compensation amount has been deemed “fair, adequate and reasonable,” U.S. District Judge Manish Shah noted in the settlement agreement he signed July 10. The deal puts to bed six lawsuits filed in California, Georgia and Illinois. Accusations that the big bank was violating TCPA began in January 2013, and Wells Fargo was hit with its first lawsuit four years later. The most recent lawsuit on the matter was filed in November 2018 in Illinois.
The automated calls were allegedly made in connection with auto loans, mortgages, home equity loans, credit card accounts, student loans, and fraud alerts, among other services, according to the filing. Though the court filing did not specify the volume of auto loans affected, Wells Fargo had a $45.1 billion auto loan portfolio at yearend 2018, according to Big Wheels Auto Finance Data.
Lenders have been facing TCPA lawsuits as of late. In March, Flagship Credit Acceptance agreed to a $4 million class-action settlement to resolve allegations it violated TCPA followed by Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. which shelled out $2.2 million to settle its TCPA lawsuit.
Last month, a federal court decision determined Santander Consumer USA’s Aspect calling system was still violating the TCPA. That lawsuit has yet to be settled.