Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times
Wells Fargo said on Thursday that an internal review of its potentially fraudulent bank accounts had uncovered a total of 3.5 million such accounts, some 1.4 million more than it had previously estimated.
The bank also raised a new issue: unauthorized enrollments of customers in the bank’s online bill payment service. Wells Fargo said that it had found 528,000 cases in which customers may have been signed up without their knowledge or consent, and will refund $910,000 to customers who incurred fees or charges.
“We are working hard to ensure this never happens again and to build a better bank for the future,” Timothy J. Sloan, Wells Fargo’s chief executive, said in a written statement announcing the review’s results. “We apologize to everyone who was harmed.”
The bank’s review, which went back to the beginning of 2009, focused on retail bank accounts, and did not expand into other areas in which the bank has been accused of wrongdoing, including improperly withholding refunds due to some car loan customers and charging some customers for auto insurance that they did not need. Wells Fargo has said previously that it will refund customers who were affected by those actions.
The bank has also been accused of handing mortgages improperly by making unauthorized changes to 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).
Wells Fargo touched off a scandal last September when it agreed to pay $185 million to settle three government lawsuits over the bank’s creation of potentially millions of unauthorized customer accounts.
Wells Fargo acknowledged that thousands of employees, trying to meet aggressive sales goals, created accounts in customers’ names without their knowledge. In some cases, customers discovered the existence of the accounts only when they incurred fees on them.
Source: New York Times