Mansell, Engel & Cole

National bank is unquestioned bad actor in this insurance tale

Good times, bad times.

National bank Wells Fargo has certainly experienced both.

Along with other financial behemoths operative in Oklahoma and across the country, it has rung in many a New Years with preceding-year results marked by eye-popping profits.

And then, well, there's the present, which is not being exceedingly kind to the bank. In fact, Wells Fargo's stock took a bath last Friday, suffering a downward plunge that a CNN Money report noted made it "the worst-performing bank in the S&P 500."

The reason for the skid is anything but complex. In fact, it is quite simple and something that will immediately resonate with virtually every consumer in the country in an impassioned and vitriolic way.

Here's the bottom line: The public is now awash in information that points squarely to bad-faith conduct on behalf of the bank that potentially defrauded more than 800,000 customers, some in material fashion that led to the repossession of their vehicles and adverse dings on their credit reports.

In a nutshell, and as noted in the above-cited CNN piece, Wells Fargo acted unilaterally over a number of years in summarily charging legions of good-faith consumers "for car insurance they didn't need."

The jacked-up charges targeted customers having vehicle loans with the bank, which requires as a precondition for getting those loans that consumers have a requisite level of insurance coverage.

What will undoubtedly engender the ire of most readers of this blog is the bank's long-tenured practice of tacking on extra charges for customers who had their own insurance and absolutely did not require additional coverage from Wells Fargo.

The bank will now pay for its bad-faith behavior, reportedly to the tune of scores of millions of dollars.

Bank officials point to what they note were "inadequate" internal processes in place to prevent the overcharges.

That depiction would easily seem to qualify as a gross understatement.

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