The U.S. Justice Department in Los Angeles announced that Wells Fargo Bank will have pay an additional $5.4 million to members of the U.S. military whose vehicles were repossessed by in violation of federal law.
Wells Fargo reached a $4 million settlement with federal prosecutors
last year over allegations it illegally repossessed more than 400 cars owned by members of the military without a court order.
“Just a few days ago, we observed Veterans Day to honor those who have served our country so bravely,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore. “The Justice Department will continue to honor their service throughout the year by vigorously enforcing servicemembers’ rights under federal law. The men and women of our armed forces should be able to devote their full attention to their military duties, without having to worry about their cars being repossessed back home. We are pleased that our settlement agreement has ensured that hundreds of additional servicemembers will be compensated for the damages they suffered as a result of illegal auto repossessions.”
The settlement resolves alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil
Relief Act, which protects service members against certain predatory civil proceedings that could affect their legal rights while they are in the service.
The additional amount brings the total compensation under the settlement to more than $10.1 million and the total number of servicemembers eligible for relief to more than 860.
“The SCRA provides important protections and is intended to prevent
unnecessary financial hardship for the brave women and men who serve in our armed forces,” said acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “Losing an automobile through an unlawful repossession while serving our country is a problem servicemembers should not have to confront. We are pleased that Wells Fargo is taking action to compensate these additional servicemembers as required under the settlement with the Justice Department.”
The settlement covers repossessions that occurred between Jan. 1, 2008, and July 1, 2015. The agreement requires Wells Fargo to pay $10,000 to each of the affected military members, plus any lost equity in the vehicle with interest. Wells Fargo also must repair the credit of all affected soldiers.
The agreement also requires Wells Fargo to pay a $60,000 civil penalty
to the United States and to determine, in the future, if any vehicle it is
planning to repossess is owned by an active duty service member.
— The City News Service contributed to this report.