Wells Fargo unveils program to help low-income residents build savings

ByRandall Yip KGO logo
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Wells Fargo program to help low-income residents build savings
Operation HOPE won't wait for people to come to them. It will go out in the community to seek the unbanked out and help them become banked.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Wells Fargo took a step forward in helping low income residents build their savings. The announcement is being cautiously cheered by some of the bank's harshest critics.

The San Francisco-based bank announced a partnership with a nonprofit to place a financial counselor in some of its branches. The move follows a scandal that nearly knocked the wheels off the bank's iconic stagecoach.

A financial counselor from the national nonprofit Operation HOPE will be placed inside select Wells Fargo branches in 20 cities around the country.

The HOPE Inside program will first be unveiled in Oakland, Atlanta and Houston.

In the East Bay, the money coach will be headquartered at the main branch on Franklin Street.

RELATED: Here's how to protect yourself from losing thousands of dollars at the bank

Darlene Goins of Wells Fargo says that person's salary will be financed by a grant from the bank.

"They'll help them establish a budget, help to set aside savings for emergency savings or longer term savings. They'll help them improve their credit," Goins said.

The program will target those who currently don't have savings accounts and might rely on payday lenders and check cashing services that charge triple digit interest rates for short term loans from payday lenders.

Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition gives that a thumbs up.

"It's a positive thing for Wells Fargo to be partnering with an organization like that that is in the community and trying to help families," said Stein.

However, he points out it was only six years ago that federal regulators found Wells Fargo had set up fraudulent savings and checking accounts for people without their knowledge, oftentimes ruining their credit.

RELATED: Citi is the first mega bank to kill overdraft fees

He accuses the bank of denying loans to African Americans at a disproportionate rate and of hitting customers with $1.4 billion in overdraft fees.

"We have done things like eliminate overdraft transfer fees. We also have eliminated the non-sufficient fund fee," Goins said.

"They are still charging $35 of an overdraft and allowing overdrafts up to three times a day," Stein said.

But Goins says the bank has a 10 year commitment to reach underserved communities.

"We have partnered with other organizations such as Operation Hope to help empower people financially so they can achieve those dreams," she said.

Operation Hope won't wait for people to come to them. It will go out in the community to seek the unbanked out and help them become banked.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!

7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.