Conn. AG wants explanation from Wells Fargo

Bryan Cohen Jan. 5, 2012, 1:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen requested on Wednesday that Wells Fargo & Co. give an explanation of why it may have disclosed the Social Security numbers of customers when it sent them copies of subpoenas.

The subpoenas were issued by the state Department of Social Services as part of a fraud case. DSS requested the financial records to determine whether financial information was falsified on applications for D-SNAP benefits that were submitted by some state employees.

Improper disclosure by individuals or entities entrusted with Social Security numbers is a violation of Connecticut law. Jepsen wrote a letter on Wednesday to James M. Strother, Wells' senior executive vice president and general counsel, requesting information on the matter.

"My initial review suggests that neither Connecticut nor federal law required Wells to disclose DSS's subpoenas to the customers whose records were sought therein," Jepsen said. "Nor am I aware of any reason to conclude that Wells was prohibited from redacting other individuals' information from subpoenas it chose to disclose to customers."

Published reports suggested Social Security numbers of multiple individuals, along with identifying information, were included on at least two subpoenas issued to Wells. Wells allegedly provided copies of those subpoenas to customers without redacting the personal information of the other customers.

Jepsen requested that the company respond by next week "so that I may determine the appropriateness of Wells' conduct and whether Wells must provide affected individuals with protections against identity theft or other harms."

If a breach of customer information occurred, Jepsen would ask the company to provide affected customers with identity theft insurance, credit monitoring and security freeze reimbursement.

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