Wells Fargo to pay $8.5 million for California privacy violations

A Wells Fargo Bank sign is seen through a motorized cable car in San Francisco, California October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

(Reuters) - A Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N unit will pay $8.5 million to California and five of the state's counties to settle charges that it violated customers' privacy by recording their calls without first notifying them, state prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Wells Fargo Bank broke California’s privacy laws, which require disclosure at the start of a phone call, state Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement about her office’s civil case against the company.

The bank neither admitted nor denied liability, she said.

Harris’ office pursued the case with district attorneys for Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Alameda County, Riverside County and Ventura County. The six offices will share $7.6 million of the settlement.

The statement did not mention the violation period. A spokesperson for Harris could not be immediately reached for comment.

Wells Fargo has put procedures in place to ensure that disclosures occur at the beginning of the call, company spokesman Tom Goyda said in a statement.

The settlement requires Wells to establish procedures to ensure compliance, and appoint a supervisor to oversee those measures.

Wells has also agreed to contribute a total of $500,000 to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego and the Consumer Protection Trust Fund.

Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Additional reporting by Dan Freed; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Richard Chang