Notification Begins to Borrowers Eligible for Payments from $234.3 Million Lending Discrimination Settlement Between the Department of Justice and Wells Fargo Bank, NA (United States v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA (D.D.C., July 2012))
On April 25, 2013, Independent Settlement Administrator Epiq Class Action & Claims Solutions, Inc. (Epiq) began mailing letters to borrowers whom the United States has identified as entitled to payments from the Wells Fargo lending discrimination settlement fund. The letters notify recipients that they have been identified as victims, list the minimum payments they can receive, and include response forms.
Borrowers receiving letters must sign and mail their response form by June 25, 2013 to participate in the settlement. The response form is designed to be easy to complete, and it can be returned using the prepaid envelope enclosed with the letter. In early 2014, the Settlement Administrator plans to mail a letter with the exact payment amount and a release form to those who return the response form. Individuals with questions about the United States v. Wells Fargo lending discrimination settlement may contact Epiq, in English or Spanish, by telephone at 1-866-329-5282 or by email at info@WellsFargoDOJConsentOrder.com.
The settlement, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, provided for an independent settlement administrator (Epiq) to contact and distribute compensation payments at no cost to borrowers whom the department identifies as victims of Wells Fargo's discrimination. Epiq's activities are overseen by the Department of Justice, and all of Epiq's costs and expenses will be paid by Wells Fargo.
The letters being mailed out beginning April 25 are the first mailing being sent to victims relating to the Wells Fargo lending discrimination settlement, although many Wells Fargo borrowers have previously received legitimate letters relating to other settlements with Wells Fargo not related to discrimination. Wells Fargo borrowers should treat as a scam any mailings or phone calls that tell borrowers they must pay to participate in the settlement, or contacts that do not come from Epiq related to the lending discrimination settlement. All mailings from Epiq related to the lending discrimination settlement will have the seal of the United States Department of Justice and use the return address "Wells Fargo-DOJ Consent Order Administrator, PO Box 2730, Portland, OR 97208-2730," and will ask victims to return response forms to that address. Any potential scams related to the Wells Fargo lending discrimination settlement should be reported to Epiq by telephone at 1-866-329-5282, or to the Department of Justice at 202-514-4713.
The settlement resolves the United States' allegations that Wells Fargo engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009. The complaint alleges that Wells Fargo discriminated by steering approximately 8,000 African-American and Hispanic wholesale and retail borrowers into subprime mortgages when non-Hispanic white borrowers with similar credit profiles received prime loans. All the borrowers who were allegedly discriminated against were qualified for Wells Fargo mortgage loans according to Well Fargo's own underwriting criteria. The complaint also alleges that, between 2004 and 2009, Wells Fargo discriminated by charging approximately 30,000 African-American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers higher fees and rates than non-Hispanic white borrowers because of their race or national origin rather than the borrowers' credit worthiness or other objective criteria related to borrower risk. A copy of the United States' lending discrimination complaint against Wells Fargo, the approved settlement order, and additional information about fair lending enforcement by the Department of Justice, can be found on the Department's website at www.justice.gov/fairhousing.
Today's announcement only addresses the Department of Justice's July 2012 settlement resolving fair lending allegations against Wells Fargo. It is separate from the March 2012 $25 billion settlement between the Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 49 state attorneys general and the nation's five largest mortgage servicers to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. Individuals can obtain more information about that separate mortgage servicing settlement by visiting www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com.