Wells Fargo, Conduent Refuse to Refund Benefits Stolen From New Mexico EPPICard Users, Class Action Says
Munoz et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. et al.
Filed: March 8, 2023 ◆§ 1:23-cv-00202
A class action alleges Wells Fargo and Conduent regularly refuse to refund New Mexico EPPICard users whose accounts have been subject to fraud.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Conduent Business Services, LLC Conduent State & Local Solutions, Inc.
A proposed class action alleges Wells Fargo, Conduent State & Local Solutions, Inc. and Conduent Business Services, LLC regularly refuse to refund New Mexico EPPICard users whose accounts have been subject to fraud.
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The 19-page lawsuit was filed by two New Mexico residents who claim the financial institutions unlawfully denied refunds for disputed transactions after the companies could not confirm that fraud had occurred. Per the case, the plaintiffs had funds stolen from their EPPICard accounts, which are “limited purpose” accounts managed by Wells Fargo and Conduent for the collection of unemployment insurance, child support and foster care maintenance payments. These funds are administered by state-run agencies that consumers can access using an EPPICard prepaid Visa card, the suit explains.
One plaintiff says that in January 2022, she was shocked to discover that only $34 remained in her EPPICard account after she lost $5,550 worth of child support payments to unauthorized transactions and associated fees charged by the defendants. Another plaintiff says an unauthorized actor stole over $13,000 of his unemployment benefits in February 2022, leaving only $3.17 in his EPPICard account.
According to the case, the transactions were “obviously fraudulent” since many involved a Lithuanian or Estonian cryptocurrency exchange. Nevertheless, EPPICard told the plaintiffs after they had reported the transfers that it “cannot confirm that fraud occurred” and that its investigation “indicates that you entered into an agreement with the merchant,” the suit relays.
The complaint contends that Wells Fargo and Conduent had “absolutely no basis” to assert that the plaintiffs had “entered into an agreement with the merchant,” indicating that they failed to properly investigate the disputes. Still, the defendants refused to refund or issue a credit for any of the money stolen from the plaintiffs’ EPPICard accounts, the case says.
Per the filing, Wells Fargo and Conduent have violated the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) by holding consumers liable for unauthorized charges. Although the EFTA places the burden of proof on the financial institution to demonstrate that challenged transfers were authorized, Wells Fargo and Conduent regularly deny claims because they “cannot confirm that fraud occurred,” the suit contends.
Finally, the complaint claims that unauthorized actors were able to drain thousands of dollars from consumers’ EPPICard accounts in the first place due to the companies’ failure to adequately safeguard the funds.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone in the United States who currently has or previously had a New Mexico EPPICard Visa Prepaid Card account, notified Wells Fargo and Conduent they disputed one or more charges on their account, and, within one year of the commencement of this action, received a response from the defendants that denied the dispute based on the stated grounds that they could not confirm or determine that the disputed transaction(s) were fraudulent or otherwise unauthorized.
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