2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is calling for Wells Fargo & Co. to be kicked off college campuses, Bloomberg reports. Her criticism comes after a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report showed that Wells Fargo charged students the highest fees of all 573 banks reviewed. On Thursday (Jan. 17), the Massachusetts Senator said she asked for further information from the 31 colleges where the bank operates and Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan.
This isn’t the first time Warren has cracked down on Wells Fargo. She’s openly criticized the bank ever since a 2017 fake accounts scandal resulted in issues for a number of Wells Fargo customers. She has also previously demanded that Sloan be removed from his position. This latest move gives some teeth to her admittedly vague promise in her campaign video to ensure that “if you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to be able to take care of yourself and the people you love.” As Paste’s Shane Ryan noted, Warren has been lacking specifics in her agenda since the announcement of her presidential bid. Protecting students from big banks is an excellent way to kick off the finer points of her political platform.
A statement from Warren on this latest inquiry reads:
When granted the privilege of providing financial services to students through colleges, Wells Fargo used this access to charge struggling college students exorbitant fees. These high fees, which are an outlier within the industry, demonstrate conclusively that Wells Fargo does not belong on college campuses.
A bank spokesman told Bloomberg in an email that Wells Fargo is “continually working to improve how we serve our customers.” They elaborated, “Before and since the CFPB’s review on this topic, we have been pursuing customer-friendly actions that support students.” These include waiving service fees on some checking accounts available to students.
It remains to be seen if Warren’s comments will deter Wells Fargo’s avid pursuit of student customers, who are among their fastest-growing markets. In fact, John Rasmussen, head of personal lending at Wells Fargo, said in 2018 that the bank may begin refinancing federal student loans. Hopefully Warren’s callout helps stymie the bank’s predatory practices.