Wells Fargo is the nation’s largest home mortgage lender, according to The New York Times, so it was particularly concerning for some Black homeowners to discover the bank’s history of racial bias and discrimination. In a 2012 announcement from the Justice Department, it was revealed that Wells Fargo agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that it discriminated against both Black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom. The department had launched a civil rights investigation that revealed mortgage brokers working at Wells Fargo were charging Black borrowers and Hispanic borrowers higher fees and rates than their white counterparts who had similar financial profiles, the Times reported. The bank was also accused of steering “more than 4,000 minority borrowers into costlier subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit risk profiles had received regular loans,” the Times added.
Bank of America
In a painful twist of irony, the very bank that dons the name of the country that claims to be post-racial and equal for all was caught discriminating against Black homebuyers through its Countrywide subsidiary. The Justice Department announced that the bank “had charged 200,000 minority homeowners higher interest rates and fees than white borrowers who were similarly qualified, with similar credit ratings,” the Economic Policy Institute reported. Bank of America was also accused of failing to offer Black and Hispanic homeowners the same conventional mortgages that white homeowners with similar profiles were offered. As EPI pointed out, these practices “systematically pushed minority borrowers into exploitative subprime mortgages, with higher rates and fees.” Many Black homeowners were also pushed into foreclosure due to the bank’s discriminatory practices. The bank was eventually fined more than $2 million.