Wells Fargo & Co. allegedly disclosed the Social Security information of needy New England customers who had asked the Connecticut Department of Social Services for public assistance, the state's attorney general said Wednesday in a letter to James M. Strother, Wells' senior executive vice president and general counsel.
The customer information was listed on at least two subpoenas issued to Wells by the Connecticut agency, which was seeking to verify those customers' assets before dolling out food stamps, according to a press release.
Wells allegedly then sent unredacted copies of those documents to the customers named in the litigation, according to a letter to a Wells' lawyer dated Jan. 4. "It is vital that you provide further information to my office concerning this matter," said Connecticut Attorney General George C. Japsen in the letter. More than 100 customers were affected, according to published reports. In a tacit admission of guilt, Wells Fargo responded that it is offering help to those impacted by the breach. "Our focus and concern is on our customers and the other individuals impacted," the company said in an emailed statement. "As a result, we will be offering them the option of signing up for complimentary identity theft protection safeguards. In the past, a spokesman said, the attorney general has ordered retail banks to provide two years' worth of credit monitoring and credit theft insurance to affected customers in similar situations. According to the letter, the bank has until January 9 to respond to the attorney general.