OUCH: Wells Fargo Reveals 1.4 Million More Fake Accounts Opened in Customer Names

A year ago thousands of Wells Fargo employees were fired for opening 2 million fake bank and credit card accounts.

Customers who had accounts opened in their name with neither their knowledge nor their permission were hit with fees for failing to take actions (like paying bills or maintaining minimum balances) they had no idea they were on the hook for.

And when those customers sued, Wells Fargo argued they shouldn’t be allowed, since as customers they had agreed to arbitration-only rules without knowing it, since that was in their adhesion contract. (Wells should’ve just added into the adhesion contract that sales people could hit their quotes by opening accounts unilaterally then all would have been good, right?)

Since Wells is supposed to actually get customers to open credit card accounts now because they actually want the accounts they’ve been trying to figure out how their cards can give customers a tingly sexy feeling.

Meanwhile a new review finds that there were actually 3.5 million — not just 2 million — fake accounts.

They also found “528,000 potentially unauthorized online bill-pay enrollments.”


Copyright: jetcityimage / 123RF Stock Photo

Not surprisingly Wells Fargo “isn’t planning additional” reviews of its fraudulent practices, despite not covering,

other areas in which the bank has been accused of wrongdoing, including improperly withholding refunds that were due to some car loan customers and charging some customers for auto insurance that they did not need.

The bank has also been accused of handling mortgages improperly by making unauthorized changes to the loans of borrowers in bankruptcy (which it has denied) and charging customers fees to extend applications that it delayed (an issue the bank said it is looking into).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Just like the economic blowout of 2007, nobody is held culpable and pays with prison; not just a few bucks from the company “rainy day fed fund.”

    In respect to Senator Howard Baker’s memorable inquiry at the Watergate hearings, the feds should be inquiring of the banks’s Board of Directors, “when did you know about these crimes, and what did you do about it; or, why did you not know?”

    Although Mussolini perfected a sure way to fight corruption, the least we can do here is to ensure that board members are held personally liable–not just to pay fines out of their own wealth, but also, to have adjoining cells with their C-Suite comrades.

    Given the extent of corruption here, wonder to what extent it spread and metastasized in the business entities run by the board members? Hard to believe such rampant corruption to perfect “the numbers” is somehow fire-walled from other board-related companies.

  2. The front-lines probably face immense sales quote pressures, but lots of businesses face this issue and from my understanding many personnel were let go, including at the executive level. I think the real issue is a lack of governance visibility – the board and management should continue to address this weakness.

    I would also add that it takes two parties to form a transaction, which makes me wonder what kind of financial state many of the victims are/were in to be unable to determine whether they were being charged erroneous fees or not. While Wells Fargo as a whole is absolutely at fault, there’s something to be said for actually keeping on top of one’s finances.

  3. And how does this pertain to flying? It doesn’t.

    And how is this the CEO’s fault? Plenty of organizations have sales goals. Plenty of banks do. A small percentage of branch employees break company policy and we should somehow hang the CEO?

    And to think people complain about idiotic Trump populism when they cry for the same stupidity.

    Piggy – stick to crappy travel posts.

  4. I think a fair resolution would be to give 100 thousand points to each of the clients who had an unauthorized account opened in his/her name

  5. Transportation Secretary Chao, who took a break from being on the Wells Fargo board to “serve the public”, is still getting checks for $1.2 million/year from Wells Fargo. I’m sure it’s all on the up and up like the rest of WF business.

  6. What’s the minimum sentencing for this crime? If we can have required sentences for low risk drug crime, this should earn the entire bank board hundreds of years in jail…but we all know that won’t happen.

  7. There’s always a silver lining.

    Used to be WF would not approve credit card applications unless you were already a WF customer. I guess now that their portfolio has shrunk, they’ve changed. Now they are approving those with no current WF relationship who apply for their cards.

  8. @JC – Are you seriously wanting to give them your personal information after they committed identity theft with their customers’ data about 3.5 million times?

  9. @DaveS — I’m not worried about it. Aside from the fact that I keep all my credit bureau files frozen shut, there’s zero liability.

  10. How many AU accounts with fake names do you think Chase and Amex have? Maybe they know but don’t care so they can pad their numbers.

  11. @Banananon: Probably not many. You do realize that they require an AU’s name, DOB and SSN, right? There’s also the pesky little issue of them reporting the accounts to the AU’s credit bureau files in addition to having placed a soft inquiry when accepting them as an AU.

    I’m not sure what value any bank would place on having a large number of fake AUs. Fake accounts, sure. they were opened by bank staff to pad their performance. AUs don’t work that way.

  12. I would hope that every major bank has run an audit after this happened to WF. You don’t want it to come out later that you didn’t.

  13. Wells Fargo should also check on how many thousands of times elderly folks were literally robbed when they bought into their “Reverse Mortgage” schemed of 10 years ago!
    My mother was promised she would leave her family $8,000 more than what W. F. decided to pay out upon her death several months after she got into this unscrupulous illegal scheme.
    All the calls and visits to their local office in the Dallas area were never responded to hoping that we would eventually run out of steam.
    It worked for them but they walked away as they have done millions of times, with not a care in the world!
    I hope enough of us that fall in this RF category would team up and Sue this bank that is unworthy to be allowed to function in the future in this USA!

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