Politics

Wells Fargo doesn’t even pretend to value Black customers

For a few points of comparison:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. approved 81% of Black homeowners’ refinancing applications compared to 90% approved from white homeowners. Bank of America gave 66% of Black applicants the green light compared to 78% of white ones, and Rocket Mortgage approved 79% of Black applicants compared to 86% of their white counterparts, Bloomberg reported.

Engineer Mauise Ricard III, one of those Black applicants Wells Fargo rejected, told Bloomberg he paid $560.42 to apply to have his home refinanced on Valentine’s Day in an Atlanta suburb. The loan officer told Ricard, who has a credit score above 800 and is married to a doctor, that his appraisal would probably be fast-tracked. Instead, the loan officer emailed him to say that “perhaps the area is not eligible,” and that he would have to pay a higher interest rate of 4.5%—even amid what were historically low interest rates at the time. Ricard told Bloomberg his property is located in a Black neighborhood.

“They kept moving the needle,” Ricard says. “They didn’t want to move forward for whatever reason.”

In 2012, Wells Fargo settled a $175 million lawsuit after being accused of charging Black and Latino customers higher rates on mortgages, according to Reuters.

Six years later, in 2018, the city of Sacramento accused the company of a “long-standing pattern and practice” of illegal lending that lowered home values, upped foreclosures, and capped property tax revenue used to fund schools in minority communities, according to CNN. 

And in 2019, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Dec. 16 that Wells Fargo was set to pay Philadelphia $10 million to settle a lawsuit alleging lending discrimination targeting minorities. 

Wells Fargo didn’t immediately respond to a Daily Kos request for comment, but the company told Bloomberg it treats its potential borrowers the same, “is more selective than other lenders, and an internal review of the bank’s 2020 refinancing decisions confirmed that ‘additional, legitimate, credit-related factors’ were responsible for the differences.”

Ricard told Bloomberg he was ultimately able to get his home refinanced through another lender—at a 3.35% interest rate.

“It’s sad that as a banking institution that they essentially can’t be trusted,” Ricard told Bloomberg. “As an African American, a person of color, we deal with enough hardships that life hands us. To be discriminated against financially is a hardship.”

RELATED: Despite outstanding rating, banks still aren’t lending to black business owners like they should be

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