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An undetermined number of new Wells Fargo bank customers in South Carolina and Florida received portions of other customers' bank statements in the mail this week, and a bank spokesman said Thursday the matter is being considered a security breach.
Bank spokesman Josh Dunn told The Post and Courier of Charleston that he couldn't say how many of the 487,000 households in South Carolina that now have Wells Fargo accounts were affected. Dunn also couldn't confirm 30,000 affected customers that a Wells Fargo employee estimated for one South Carolina customer.
Dunn attributed the error to a single malfunctioning printer in Charlotte, N.C., which apparently put multiple customers' account and transaction information on pages, or even single pages, of one statement.
Although Dunn wouldn't say when the bank learned of the problem, Wells Fargo customers told reporters that they received their misprinted statements on Wednesday.
In many cases, customers' names and account and routing numbers ended up in the hands of strangers. In some cases, where people have set up direct deposit of their paychecks to their accounts, Social Security numbers also ended up on the printouts, Dunn said.
"And that's why we're treating this matter as an information security breach," he said, adding, "any type of fraud related to this matter" will be fully reimbursed."
Doug Jenkins, 74, a retired engineer who lives on Wadmalaw Island, received his bank statement Wednesday afternoon, the first since Wells Fargo completed its takeover of Wachovia, Jenkins' former bank. Inside, behind a cover letter, was someone else's statement. Jenkins thought it was a sample. But then he recognized the name on the statement, if not the account number and transactions that were also printed.
"And as it happens, I know the person, or my wife does, and I called him," Jenkins said.
Jenkins eventually called Wells Fargo himself and learned from the "very apologetic" woman who answered the phone that he was hardly alone.
"She said that ... they had mailed out 30,000 incorrect statements or statements to the wrong people," he said.
Joanne Fronabarger received a call from a woman she had never met. Janice Thorne said she had Fronabarger's bank statement as well as another stranger's. All three live in West Ashley.
Fronabarger and her husband, who had recently closed their Wachovia accounts, were surprised, but the news was "not as troubling for us as for the poor person who had $150,000 in their account and Ms. Thorne is holding her statement."
Dunn could not say whether there was any connection, geographic or otherwise, between the people whose transactions were printed together.
Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com