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Should you sign up for the class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo?

Wells Fargo is sending notices to customers telling them they may be eligible for compensation in a $142 million class action settlement over fake accounts.
Wells Fargo is sending notices to customers telling them they may be eligible for compensation in a $142 million class action settlement over fake accounts. AP

Wells Fargo customers are starting to receive notices from the bank that they may be eligible for compensation in a $142 million class action settlement over fake accounts.

According to the letter, “If you believe Wells Fargo opened a checking, savings, credit card, or line of credit account for you without your permission, or if you purchased identity theft protection from us, you may be entitled to compensation from this fund.”

A class action lawsuit in which one individual sues on behalf of themselves and a larger group due to some circumstances which they all share. “It’s a way to prevent a whole whole whole bunch people all filing their own lawsuits,” said attorney Robbie Jessup, a partner at Howard Sterling law firm in Raleigh.

Josh Dunn, a spokesman for the bank, would not say how many notices Wells Fargo had sent out to customers, saying only it had made “broad outreach to current and former customers.”

Wells Fargo won approval for the class action settlement in July after admitting its bankers may have created millions of fraudulent accounts. The San Francisco company has been fined $185 million by regulators. The bank recently disclosed that an additional 1.4 million unauthorized accounts may have been opened. It is unclear if that disclosure will affect the original class action settlement.

Whether it would be better to pursue an individual lawsuit or receive compensation from the class action suit depends on the particular damages of the individual, Jessup said. He added that the amount any particular individual receives from a class action suit is often not that high. Because they are complex and lengthy cases against large corporations, the attorney fees can be enormous.

Such lawsuits are “more geared towards large societal harms,” Jessup said, than attaining financial compensation for a specific individual.

If you do receive compensation as part of the class action settlement “it would prevent you from filing any complaints that are based upon the same factual occurrences,” Jessup said.

To learn more about Wells Fargo’s settlement, and to apply for compensation, you can go to: https://wfsettlement.com.

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