In 2016, Wells Fargo employees created roughly 3.5 million fake accounts to receive sales-based incentives. In 2018, a computing miscalculation caused hundreds of Wells Fargo customers to miss out on loan modifications and, perhaps, ultimately lose their homes to foreclosure. Now, Wells Fargo mortgage customers in at least 14 states have reported that they were inappropriately placed in CARES Act forbearances. (This kind of forbearance puts a pause on mortgage payments for borrowers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic for up to 180 days with the option to extend the suspension for another 180 days.)
In some cases, customers say they clicked on a link to coronavirus relief information on the Wells Fargo website and gave their contact information to get related program materials. After taking this step, borrowers allege that their mortgage loans were automatically put into forbearance. Other customers called the bank to inquire about a possible forbearance and were then placed in this kind of plan without their consent.
Being erroneously placed in a forbearance plan could make it difficult for you to make your mortgage payments—even if you’re able to do so. That’s because the servicer’s system might not allow payments for an account that’s listed as in forbearance. Also, a forbearance could hurt your chances of getting another mortgage, refinancing your current one, or put your court-approved repayment plan at risk if you’re in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
At this point, it’s unclear how many customers’ loans have been put in forbearance without permission. Wells Fargo has responded to this scandal by saying they might have misinterpreted customers’ intentions in a “small number of cases” and that the bank will remove borrowers from an unwanted forbearance if they ask.
So, if you have a mortgage with Wells Fargo, you should check its current status as soon as possible. Get a copy of your credit report, check with the bank, and consider asking for a copy of your payment history. Or if you log on to make a payment for your mortgage loan and find that the bank has deactivated your account, contact Wells Fargo to find out you’re in a forbearance plan that you didn’t request. Then, ask the bank to remove you from that plan. If you need assistance dealing with the servicer or you feel you’re being treated unfairly, consider getting an attorney to help you. You can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.