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Wells Fargo Sent Statements to Wrong Customers

This article was written by in Banking, Privacy and Security. 8 comments.


The fourth largest bank in the United States by assets, Wells Fargo, admitted last week that many of its customers received statements with other customers’ banking information included. In this security breach, those affected might have received a statement with a stranger’s account number, transaction detail, and in some cases, Social Security number. Other affected customers might have had their information compromised, with their details included on other customers’ statements, without their knowledge.

Wells Fargo through its spokesman Josh Dunn blamed the error on a “malfunctioning printer.”

Wells FargoThe biggest threat is that with an account name and number, and a bank’s routing number which is public information, anyone can easily print a check. When presented, if the signature isn’t checked, could result in a withdrawal from the compromised customer’s account. For those whose Social Security numbers have been shared, the potential fraud could be worse.

My first reaction is to encourage customers to turn off paper statements opting instead for online statements only, but that won’t prevent every potential bank error. Online statements are much more secure than mailed statements.

If you’ve been affected, I would suggest changing your account number at Wells Fargo. This may be a significant process, particularly if you have direct deposit enabled or automated debits scheduled with outside vendors. It will be worth the effort, however, to ensure the compromised account number is no longer linked to you. If you Social Security number has been shared with a stranger, you should contact one of the credit reporting bureaus to freeze your credit. Your Social Security number can be used to open accounts in your name, using your credit history, so by working with the credit agencies you can opt to be notified if anyone tries to open a new line of credit.

Considering Wells Fargo’s error, the bank should offer to pay for credit monitoring services for affected customers.

Is this extra motivation for moving your money out of a big bank? There are many reasons to switch to a credit union, but this may not be a reason on its own. Mistakes like this one can happen at any institution, regardless of the company’s size.

I’ve used Wells Fargo for my primary banking services, ever since Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia, since Wachovia acquired First Union, since First Union acquired CoreStates, since Philadelphia National Bank merged with New Jersey National Bank forming CoreStates Financial Corporation.

If you’re a Wells Fargo customer, do you plan to close your account after this incident?

Photo: MoneyBlogNewz
BusinessWeek (AP)

Published or updated October 23, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar crashdamage1957

I think the best part of your post is this:

” I’ve used Wells Fargo for my primary banking services, ever since Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia, since Wachovia acquired First Union, since First Union acquired CoreStates, since Philadelphia National Bank merged with New Jersey National Bank forming CoreStates Financial Corporation.”

Amen… I think many people can identify with this situation of banking with a company that isn’t the one that they opened up the account with initially.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I worked at a financial institution years ago, and I can tell you that this was pretty common. I got a piece of mail the other day with another customer’s statement inside. Luckily it wasn’t a bank statement. Machines stuff the envelopes, and they can misfire. The down side of technology.

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avatar Carrie - Careful Cents

This is exactly why I always like to receive paperless statements via email. I’ve had too many instances where my mail was stolen or torn into, so electronic payments and statements are the only way to go in my opinion.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

Yes, it can happen to the most dilligent financial institution. It’s also a good reason to use E-statements.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I would if I had Wells Fargo.

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

I’m glad i’m not a wells fargo customer & if I were I would take steps to be a former customer.

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

+1 for online statements!

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

The only advantage of e-statements here is they could pull the statement from the server once the saw the error and could repost the statement. The system producing the e-statement is likely the same one that produced the printed statement. Since my Wells Fargo statement comes with a envelope with a window for the name that means the information mistake was within the computer not a mechanical machine like they claim unless the information is printed in two parts (unlikely).

I’m just glad to be in the processes of moving from and closing my Wells Fargo Account.

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