To the editor:

When Wells Fargo decided to drop its support for the Iditarod earlier this month I was not surprised. After all, this is not the first time the bank turned its back on the Valley.

For more than a decade, Wells Fargo was opening fake accounts across Alaska, racking up 5,970 victims of their fraudulent business practices. To date, the bank has avoided accountability for its wrongdoing by invoking fine-print forced arbitration clauses. These clauses block class-action lawsuits and force consumers to bring individual cases before private, secretive arbitrators often paid and chosen by the bank.

No one signed the arbitration agreement on these fake accounts but, incredibly, Wells Fargo argues the signatures on customers’ legitimate accounts carry over to the fake ones. By doing so, they are denying Alaskans their day in court.

I can only hope Wells Fargo is forced to abandon this practice after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau releases its rule to limit the use of forced arbitration in financial contracts this summer, and that our representatives support the rule on our behalf. But the damage here is already done.

When the Mat-Su Borough accepts new bids for its banking contract later this year, it should toss Wells Fargo’s offer aside, just as they’ve done to us.

— Fabian Bean


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