Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren takes aim at Wells Fargo over fees for students

By: | Published: January 18, 2019 9:04 AM

Elizabeth Warren is demanding that Wells Fargo & Co. be kicked off college campuses, a market the bank has said is among its fastest-growing.

Warren has been a vocal critic of Wells Fargo — including repeatedly calling for Sloan’s ouster. ((File/AP Photo)

Elizabeth Warren is demanding that Wells Fargo & Co. be kicked off college campuses, a market the bank has said is among its fastest-growing.

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts and likely presidential candidate said Thursday that she requested more information from Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan and from 31 colleges where the bank does business. The inquiry follows a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report said that Wells Fargo charged students the highest fees of 573 banks examined.

“When granted the privilege of providing financial services to students through colleges, Wells Fargo used this access to charge struggling college students exorbitant fees,” Warren said in a statement. “These high fees, which are an outlier within the industry, demonstrate conclusively that Wells Fargo does not belong on college campuses.”

Warren has been a vocal critic of Wells Fargo — including repeatedly calling for Sloan’s ouster — since a series of consumer issues at the company erupted more than two years ago with a phony-accounts scandal.

Wells Fargo is “continually working to improve how we serve our customers,” a bank spokesman said in an emailed statement Thursday. “Before and since the CFPB’s review on this topic, we have been pursuing customer-friendly actions that support students,” including waiving service fees on some checking accounts offered to them.

A reputation for overcharging students could further harm Wells Fargo’s consumer-banking strategy. The San Francisco-based bank has identified college-age consumers as a growth opportunity, and John Rasmussen, head of personal lending, said last year that Wells Fargo may expand into the refinancing of federal student loans.

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