Wells Fargo, Citi pledge not to garnish customers' stimulus funds

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Wells Fargo and Citigroup are holding off for a month on collecting on negative checking balances to ensure that customers receive the full amount of government payments deposited into their accounts. .

Wells also said Wednesday that it will cash stimulus payment checks for noncustomers in its branches, with no fees charged. Meanwhile, Citigroup said it will provide a temporary provisional credit against a negative balance, according to a report from Bloomberg News. Both banks said they want customers to have full access to stimulus payments.

The banks are pausing overdraft and other charges or not deducting money from incoming payments to ensure consumers get their entire stimulus funds.

“The goal is to get money in consumers’ hands as easily and quickly as possible,” Ed Kadletz, Wells Fargo’s head of the deposit products group, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Millions of consumers who earn less than $75,000 began receiving payments this week of up to $1,200 as part of the federal government’s efforts to rejuvenate the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. For many, the payments were automatically deposited into checking accounts.

"We encourage customers who receive a stimulus payment check to use mobile deposits or ATMs to deposit the checks if possible," Wells said in a statement Wednesday.

Banks have faced criticism from some lawmakers concerned that consumers with overdrawn accounts or negative balances would lose part or all of their payments.

Wells Fargo gathered a record amount of deposits on Wednesday as customers received the payments and tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service, Kadletz told Bloomberg.

Consumers can also receive stimulus payments through a prepaid card, or in their PayPal Holdings and Square digital wallets.

Bloomberg News contributed to this story.

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