Brown Announces Two Bipartisan Hearings on Protecting Ohio Consumers from Wells Fargo, Equifax

Senator is Lead Democrat on Banking Committee, Has Fought to Hold Wells Fargo, Equifax Accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee – today announced two bipartisan hearings in October to press Wells Fargo and Equifax for answers.

The hearings will be held:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017: “Wells Fargo. One Year Later.” Chief Executive Officer and President of Wells Fargo, Timothy Sloan, will testify about the company’s failure to detect millions of fraudulent accounts opened in customers’ names, as well as the company’s past practice of forcing unwanted insurance on auto loan borrowers.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017: “An Examination of the Equifax Cybersecurity Breach.” Chairman and CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith, will appear to discuss the company’s massive data breach, its failure to address a known security flaw, and the consequences of compromising the personal information of more than 143 million Americans.

“Congress needs to stand on the side of working people, not Wall Street. These hearings are about getting answers for the people we serve,” said Brown.

Brown has vowed to fight in the Senate to protect consumers from financial scams and fraud.

WELLS FARGO

For perhaps a decade, Wells Fargo opened millions of fraudulent accounts – at least 3.5 million bank accounts and credit card accounts – in its customers’ names. And worse – Wells Fargo used forced arbitration clauses it tucked away in the fine print of contracts to cover up cases that would have made the fraud public much earlier.

Following this scandal, Brown called for bipartisan hearings into the phony bank and credit card accounts. He also pressed the CEO during the hearing and followed up with a pointed letter on questions not addressed during the hearing.  

Brown introduced legislation to prevent Wells Fargo from using ‘forced arbitration’ clauses that were tucked away in the fine print of contracts customers signed when they opened legitimate accounts to block them from suing over fraudulent accounts that were created without their consent. Brown has been leading the charge in the Senate to push Wells Fargo to stop the practice.

In July, Brown pressed Wells Fargo for answers after news the bank forced unwanted insurance on auto loan borrowers, potentially pushing thousands into default and repossession. Brown said the scandal is further proof why the Administration’s efforts to roll back consumer protections are dangerous. He also called for hearings on the matter.

EQUIFAX

Following a security breach disclosed to the public earlier this month, Equifax initially included forced arbitration clauses in the terms of use agreement customers must sign in order to get free credit monitoring and identity theft services it is offering. At Brown’s urging, Equifax removed forced arbitration clauses from its credit monitoring and identity protection services offered to customers. Last week, Brown announced his plan to introduce legislation that will provide Equifax victims with 10 years of free credit monitoring and make it easy and affordable for customers to freeze their credit reports.

Brown also joined a bipartisan group of 36 senators in a letter to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the agencies to investigate the sale of nearly $2 million in Equifax securities held by high-level Equifax executives shortly after the company learned of its massive cybersecurity breach.

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