Wells Fargo Is Reportedly Facing a Probe Over Car Repos

A Wells Fargo Bank Branch Ahead Of Earnings Figures
A taxi cab drives past a Wells Fargo & Co. bank branch in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 7, 2014. Wells Fargo & Co. is expected to release earnings figures on April 11. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo by Craig Warga—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wells Fargo is reportedly facing a federal investigation over whether it improperly repossessed cars owned by military members.

According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a firm has to procure a court order before repossessing a vehicle belonging to a member of the military, a law that was established to protect soldiers and other military personnel from having to deal with legal issues while they’re actively serving.

But citing people with knowledge of the probe, Bloomberg reports that Wells Fargo (WFC) is being accused of seizing cars without first receiving the proper documents, resulting in an investigation by the Department of Justice and bank regulators

Wells Fargo is not the first financial institution to be accused of violating SCRA. In 2012 Capital One paid $12 million to settle a case that included charges of improper car seizures of servicemembers. Banco Santander paid $9 million last year when it was accused of improperly repossessing over 1,000 vehicles from military personnel. It’s uncertain how many vehicles are in question in Wells Fargo’s case.


The U.S. Government and Accountability Office’s recent studies have shown that lenders tend to forget to check people’s military status, according to Bloomberg, resulting in thousands not receiving certain benefits allowed them by law—which could account for some of the improper repossessions.

Wells Fargo has declined to comment, though a spokesperson for the company told Fortune that the bank “is honored to serve the financial needs of military servicemembers and veterans, and we take very seriously our responsibilities under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.”

Fortune has reached out to the Justice Department and will update this story if it responds.

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