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Fifth Third Bank Fraud Lawsuit

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Fifth Third

Fifth Third Accused of Violating Consumers’ Rights, Charging Fees and Opening Fraudulent Accounts

Fifth Third Bank is facing numerous federal charges after allegedly opening unauthorized accounts under consumers’ names without their knowledge. A lawsuit was filed against the bank by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in March 2020 and accuses Fifth Third of aggressive sales strategies that resulted in thousands of unauthorized credit cards, checking and savings accounts, and lines of credit being opened under consumers’ names. 

Banking Fraud

Some consumers were even charged penalties and fees because of these accounts, which were opened without their knowledge by employees who feared termination or loss of income because of Fifth Third’s aggressive approach to sales and toxic corporate culture. 

According to regulators, Fifth Third Bank put unachievable sales goals on employees that, if not met, resulted in a loss of compensation and even termination. These aggressive sales goals resulted in employees opening up unauthorized accounts and services without consumers’ knowledge. Fifth Third was apparently aware of this practice since at least 2010 but did not take action to stop the practice or make consumers aware of what was happening. 

Though the bank said it took “appropriate and decisive action” to address the situation, the federal lawsuit makes clear that the culture of Fifth Third remained unchanged. Even after learning of these unauthorized accounts, Fifth Third kept those aggressive sales goals intact through at least 2016.  

The charges are reminiscent of those brought against Wells Fargo, which has paid more than $5 billion in penalties and fines for similar acts over the last several years.  

If you banked with Fifth Third, you may be entitled to financial compensation. If you are unsure whether or not an unauthorized account was opened under your name, give us a call at 800-631-5656 and we will help you find out. 

Federal Lawsuit Exposes Fifth Third Bank Fraud

A federal lawsuit brought against Fifth Third Bank lays out a number of shocking charges, including placing unachievable and aggressive sales goals on its employees, leading to detrimental consequences for consumers who bank with Fifth Third. 

In its lawsuit, the CFPB details violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, which prohibits unfair and abusive acts or practices. Fifth Third is accused of both unfair and abusive practices, including:

  • opening unauthorized deposit accounts 
  • opening unauthorized credit cards 
  • unauthorized enrollment in banking services 
  • unauthorized opening of early access lines of credit
  • unauthorized credit card issuance
  • unauthorized deposit accounts
  • sales practices likely to cause unauthorized accounts
  • additional violations of CFPA

These are serious allegations, and both Fifth Third consumers and employees suffered as a result. Federal regulators wrote this in their lawsuit about Fifth Third’s aggressive and abusive sales program: 

Fifth Third Lawsuit

“To increase sales of its products and services … Fifth Third imposed sales goals on bank employees and implemented an incentive-compensation program that financially rewarded employees for selling new products and services. Sales goals were often set at a level higher than the anticipated sales for thousands of employees. Fifth Third used the achievement or nonachievement of sales goals as a key component in performance ratings. Low performance ratings could result in disciplinary action, including termination.”

Consumers who had unauthorized accounts opened under their name were put at risk financially, and were even charged penalties by Fifth Third in some instances. 

Regulators said Fifth Third opened deposit accounts “without consumers’ knowledge or consent and mov(ed) consumers’ funds without their knowledge or consent expos(ing) consumers to risks of harm, including that they would be unable to meet their financial obligations, would incur fees, or would experience negative effects on their consumer-reporting-agency information.”

In addition to fraudulent deposit accounts, consumers had credit cards opened up under their name without their knowledge. This exposed consumers to similar risks, including unjustified penalties and fees, and potentially hurting their credit scores. 

It is unacceptable for a bank to put such vigorous and unattainable goals on their employees that they commit fraud and hurt consumers and their livelihoods in the process. Fifth Third Bank needs to be held accountable for their actions and consumers deserve compensation for the damages they suffered. 

Regulators Demand Fifth Third Bank Pay Back Consumers

As part of its lawsuit, federal regulators are demanding Fifth Third Bank pay back customers who had unauthorized accounts opened up under their names. This means paying “damages, restitution, and other monetary relief to consumers” and fixing damaged credit scores or other harmful trade lines (the record of activity for any type of credit issued to a borrower and reported to a credit reporting agency).

Not only do federal regulators want Fifth Third Bank held accountable for its actions, Schmidt National Law Group wants to hold Fifth Third Bank accountable as well. We will work to get consumers harmed by Fifth Third’s toxic and fraudulent activities the compensation they deserve. 

About Fifth Third Bank

Fifth Third Bank is a large regional bank based in Ohio. It has more than $150 billion in total assets and operates more than 1,100 branches in states across the country, including in Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Until recently, Fifth Third was monitored primarily by state regulators and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. In November 2019, the state-chartered bank became nationally chartered and fell under the supervision of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. 

The CFPB’s lawsuit did not say how many consumers were affected by Fifth Third Bank’s actions, but the bank said it identified a small number of unauthorized accounts. 

According to a fact sheet written by the bank, Fifth Third said it identified “fewer than 1,100 unauthorized accounts out of more than 10 million – or just 0.01% of accounts opened between 2010 and 2016.” 

This admission by Fifth Third that unauthorized accounts were opened under its watch demonstrate’s the bank’s lack of accountability — it acknowledges that fraudulent accounts were opened yet downplays the seriousness of the situation. In the same breath, Fifth Third admits unauthorized accounts were opened but “rejects the CFPB’s allegations” against it. Consumers deserve better than that.

Fifth Third Bank Consumer Fraud Lawsuits 

If you banked with Fifth Third Bank and believe you may be a victim of the company’s aggressive sales tactics, contact the experienced attorneys at Schmidt National Law Group today. We want to hold Fifth Third Bank accountable for its actions and get you the compensation you deserve. 

There may be significant cash payouts in the form of settlements for consumers who were affected by Fifth Third Banks allegedly fraudulent actions. 

Call us today at 800-631-5656 to speak with a member of our legal team and see if you qualify for a Fifth Third Bank Consumer Fraud lawsuit.

Sources

CFPB lawsuit against Fifth Third Bank:

https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_fifth-third-bank-national-association_complaint_2020-03.pdf

CFPB press release:

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-files-suit-against-fifth-third-for-allegedly-opening-unauthorized-accounts-enrolling-consumers-in-unauthorized-products/

Fifth Third Bank Fact Sheet:

https://www.53.com/content/dam/fifth-third/docs/legal/2020/Fifth_Third_Fact_Sheet.pdf

New York Times article, “Fifth Third Bank Opened Fraudulent Accounts, Consumer Bureau Says,” by Stacy Cowley: