What to do if you were scammed by Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Bank
Rick Wilking | Reuters

The news that Wells Fargo employees opened thousands of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts for existing customers may make you wonder if you got scammed, too.

The San Francisco-based bank's own analysis identified more than 1.5 million deposit accounts and 565,443 credit card accounts that were possibly opened illegally between May 2011 and July 2015. Of those, about 85,000 of the deposit accounts and 14,000 of credit card accounts incurred $2.4 million in fees, and Wells Fargo is refunding those fees now.

Customers who were affected by these illegal practices and were identified by Wells Fargo's analysis don't have to do anything to get a refund. Some of the refunds already have been paid, while others will be sent in the next few months. Wells Fargo says it will invite all its banking customers to review their accounts with a banker and will call its credit card holders to check if they really wanted their card. The bank also says it will extend its account review back to 2009 and 2010 as well.

If you think an account was opened without your permission, you should be able to find all accounts under your name by logging into the Wells Fargo site. You can also go to your local branch or call the bank and review all the accounts linked to your name. You can also find all accounts under your name by requesting a free credit report from http://www.annualcreditreport.com/.

If you find a problem that you can't get resolved with the bank, submit an online complaint to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau or call 855-411-2372. The bureau will help get the bank to respond to your issue.

Some affected Wells Fargo customers are filing a lawsuit against the bank for the unauthorized accounts. Three plaintiffs filed a proposed class-action suit in the U.S. District Court in Utah last week, alleging invasion of privacy, fraud, negligence and breach of contract. The suit could be thrown out because Wells Fargo customers must use arbitration to resolve any problems, per the account-opening agreement. Arbitration applies even in cases when the account was opened without permission, according to previous lawsuits against the bank for the same practices.