Wells Fargo changes practices for handling subpoenas

Bryan Cohen Feb. 8, 2012, 2:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced on Wednesday that Wells Fargo & Co. has agreed to change its practices for handling subpoenas and to enhance consumer protections for customers whose information was disclosed.

The enhancements resulted from negotiations with Jepsen's office, which contacted the bank in January for an explanation as to why it might have disclosed Social Security numbers of customers when it sent them subpoena copies issued by the Connecticut Department of Social Services as part of a fraud cause. Wells confirmed that it did disclose personal information of a sensitive nature when it mailed out subpoena copies to customers named in the document.

"Wells has acted quickly to correct its error and to protect those individuals who may have been harmed as a result," Jepsen said. "This situation should alert other businesses entrusted with Social Security numbers of the need to protect them from improper disclosure."

The DSS was attempting to obtain financial records to determine whether or not some state employees had falsified financial information on applications that were submitted for benefits from D-SNAP. Neither federal law nor Connecticut law required Wells to disclose those subpoenas to customers whose records were sought.

Wells agreed to provide two years of identity theft insurance, security freeze reimbursement and credit monitoring to those whose information was disclosed to others. Customers of the company will receive a letter from Wells with instructions for receiving reimbursement for the costs of placing and lifting security freezes and for how to enroll in the credit monitoring program. Non-customers of Wells will also receive a similar letter but from the DSS instead.

In addition, Wells agreed that it would notify customers who received the subpoena about the necessity of destroying it. Wells will also now redact personal information of all people named in a subpoena, aside from the Wells customer to whom the notification has been sent.

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