by Jeff Sovern
One of the groups, the Woodstock Institute, has a report here. Among the reasons given are Wells Fargo's payday lending practices. The following excerpt from the Woodstock report has more:
"Wells Fargo's mortgage servicing practices unfairly push some borrowers into foreclosure, devastating families and harming neighborhoods. Our clients continue to have their paperwork lost, phone calls not returned, and are arbitrarily denied loan modifications," said Peter Skillern, executive director of Reinvestment Partners, based in Durham, NC. "Housing counseling and legal service agencies across the country believe Wells Fargo often does not follow servicing guidelines mandated by the $26 billion National Mortgage Settlement."
The Community Reinvestment Act has sometimes been a tool community groups use to pressure banks to change their behavior. The groups threaten to seek a bad grade and then back off in exchange for concessions. I don't know if that's the plan here or not. If it isn't, and the community groups continue to press their point, this may turn into an interesting and revealing test for the OCC's new head, Thomas Curry. In the past, the OCC has seemed to be a captive agency of the banks. There have been signs that Curry is changing that. If the OCC does want to be more protective of consumers, the CRA, often falsely blamed for causing the lending that led to the Great Recession, may be one vehicle for pursuing that goal. No doubt other banks are watching to see what happens and if Wells Fargo's grade is lowered (its most recent grade, given in 2008, was "outstanding"), will think about whether they are vulnerable.