A bill aimed at protecting victims of mass fraud and identity theft in California is heading to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Bill sponsor Assemblyman Matt Dababneh introduced the bill that looks to protect residents following the Wells Fargo scandal in which millions of accounts were fraudulently opened without consumers' consent.
"It's really important that we protect consumers from this outlandish behavior by the banks."
Wells Fargo has admitted the actual number of victims may eclipse 3.5 million, nearly 70% more victims than previously reported. The bank is now set to pay more than six-million dollars in refunds to customers for unauthorized bank and credit card accounts, as well as a $142-million national class action settlement to cover fake accounts opened since 2002.
Dababneh said large banks committing fraud and identity theft on this scale is simply un-American.
"Fraud should not be hidden behind these erroneous arbitration agreements. Fraud should get the daylight that it deserves, and frankly, had my bill had been in effect, they would have caught these egregious fraud claims much earlier in the process."
Assemblyman Dababneh said the legislation would give victims access to the state's courts to help them recover as well as preventing more victims by putting an end to illegal business practices. The lawmaker said that he believes more states will follow California's lead on this type of legislation.
"California is a trendsetter on this, this is the first bill of its kind and I expect that more will come."
The measure passed out of the Assembly on Wednesday.