HELOC Borrower Files Suit Against Wells Fargo

[Update 1: Adds response from Wells Fargo] A Fort Wayne, Ind. borrower filed a lawsuit in US District Court against Wells Fargo (WFC) this week claiming the bank illegally suspended her home equity line of credit (HELOC). Unlike a previous class action suit in Illinois that claims JP Morgan Chase (JPM) denied HELOC borrowers access to funds because the value of their properties declined, the plaintiff in the Wells Fargo suit claims her HELOC was suspended because of a derogatory item on her credit report. Marika Hamilton, a Fort Wayne, Ind. small business owner and single mother of two, said Wells Fargo suspended her $103,600 HELOC because of a $25 late payment charge she said she disputed. Hamilton says the late fee was resolved and should have been removed from her credit report. Hamilton’s lawyer said in a statement that Wells Fargo put the disputed late payment on her credit report. “Wells Fargo caused a late charge to be put on Ms. Hamilton’s credit report that never should have been there to begin with. It then used that item to justify suspending her entire credit line,” Hamilton’s lawyer, Jay Edelson said. “Adding insult to injury, the bank then threatened her and her business if she dared to stand up for herself.” The suit claims Wells Fargo representatives told Hamilton the harder she pressed for reinstatement of her HELOC, the more difficult and painful Wells Fargo would make the process, including threatening to examine all her accounts, including her business accounts. The suit also claims Hamilton asked a Wells Fargo representative where she should put her money if her HELOC was not safe, and the representative responded she “should carry cash.” The suit claims Wells Fargo violated the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and committed breaches of contract and implied covenants. Edelson is seeking class action status for the suit to include all US Wells Fargo borrowers whose HELOCs were suspended based on derogatory credit. In a prepared statement, Wells Fargo said, “We are aware of the complaint and are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit. As this is a pending lawsuit, we cannot provide any additional comment.” Write to Austin Kilgore.

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