Navajos Say Wells Fargo Defrauded Them

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 15, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In the 1800s, Wells Fargo usually knew when its stage coaches were crossing Indian territory.

Today, the bank says its representatives have done nothing to cross the Navajo Nation. Only that was a lie, the tribe says in a federal complaint.

The Navajo Nation alleges that Wells Fargo targeted its people with "predatory sales tactics" to create unnecessary accounts. For the nation's third-largest bank, it is an attack at the worst possible time.

"Stalked" Navajos

Wells Fargo is still reeling from a scandal stemming from allegations that it created fake accounts and signed up customers for services without their knowledge or consent. The Navajos claim the bank did it to them, too.

"Wells Fargo falsely claimed that 'there has been no impact from Wells Fargo's improper sales practices, as outlined by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, to the Navajo Nation community," according to the lawsuit.

The complaints says bank workers lied to Navajo consumers, "telling elderly Navajo citizens who did not speak English that in order to have their checks cashed, they needed to sign up for savings accounts they neither needed nor understood."

The tribal nation alleges that Wells Fargo representatives "stalked local events like basketball games and flea markets to sign up consumers for unnecessary accounts en masse, especially targeting Navajo women who sold native crafts and products."

"Significant Steps"

The bank has not commented on the claims, but said it is working on "rebuilding trust and building a better bank." In a statement, Wells Fargo said it agreed to pay $142 million to consumers and to resolve their issues.

"Over the past year we have taken significant steps to make things right for our customers, including members of the Navajo Nation, who may have been affected by unacceptable retail sales practices," the statement said.

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