Wells Fargo has been hit with a proposed class action wherein two Russian nationals who’ve applied for asylum in the United States allege the bank has discriminated against legal stateside residents who are not American citizens.
The 13-page lawsuit out of California federal court alleges several of Wells Fargo’s business lines deny certain types of credit, including secured and unsecured credit cards and personal loans, to non-U.S. citizens living in the country legally based on their citizenship and immigration status.
According to the case, Wells Fargo’s policies that deny legal U.S. residents such as the plaintiffs, a husband and wife who reside in San Diego and have pending asylum applications with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the right to contract for credit, checking accounts or loans based on alienage, citizenship or immigration status are “discriminatory and unlawful” under federal and California civil rights laws.
Last summer, one of the plaintiffs twice applied online for a Wells Fargo cash-back credit card and was denied both times “based on her alienage, citizenship, and/or immigration status,” the lawsuit states. In August 2020, the plaintiff received from Wells Fargo a letter in which the bank stated that one reason for her denial was the fact that she is not a permanent United States resident, according to the complaint.
Around the same time, the plaintiff’s husband also applied online for Wells Fargo cash-back credit cards and was also denied based on alienage, citizenship and immigration status, the lawsuit says.
The complaint contends that there exists “no federal or state law or regulation that restricts banks from providing financial products to customers because the customer is an alien.” Under federal law, the case says, alienage is “merely one factor” among a number used to verify the true identity of a customer. At a minimum, a bank must obtain the name, date of birth, address and Social Security, taxpayer identification or alien identification number before a customer is allowed to open an account, the suit relays.
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