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Wells Fargo Illegally Targets and Exploits Navajo People, Lawsuit Alleges

Nick Bastien
Creative Commons
A Wells Fargo headquarters in Tempe, Arizona

The Navajo Nation has filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank, charging that the institution engages in predatory and unlawful practices targeting Navajo people. In a statement, Navajo President Russell Begaye said that Wells Fargo’s actions toward his nation “have been of a uniquely outrageous nature.” The complaint was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. It alleges that employees serving in the bank’s branches on the Navajo Nation routinely persuaded customers to open unnecessary accounts and also obtained debit and credit cards without customers’ consent, all to meet banking quotes. The suit alleges that Navajo elders, many of whom do not speak English, were particularly targeted and that bank employees deceived and confused them. In a statement, Council Delegate Dwight Witherspoon said Wells Fargo’s practices were particularly egregious “because many Navajo people often have no other choice but to bank with Wells Fargo because it is often the only banking option available.”

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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