By Sylvan Lane – 08/31/17 10:07 AM EDT 60
Wells Fargo said Tuesday it opened almost twice as many unauthorized banking and credit card accounts than was originally revealed, according to an independent review of the bank’s sales practices.
Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said during a Tuesday conference call that an outside investigation into the bank’s sales tactics found more than 1.1 million more accounts opened without customer consent, according to CNBC. That brings the total number of unauthorized accounts Wells Fargo branches opened for customers to roughly 3.5 million.
Sloan said that the independent review of 165 million accounts opened between January 2009 and September 2016 found 70 percent more unauthorized accounts than the 2016 revelations that plunged the bank into scandal. He said the bank is committed to making things right with customers.
“To rebuild trust and to build a better Wells Fargo, our first priority is to make things right for our customers, and the completion of this expanded third-party analysis is an important milestone,” Sloan said.
The San Francisco bank has been ridden with scandal since September 2016, when federal and state regulators penalized Wells Fargo for charging customers fees for accounts they never asked to open. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau slapped a record $185 million fine on the bank, and the scandal led to then-CEO John Stumpf’s early retirement.
Wells Fargo has made efforts to apologize and rehabilitate its image, but the depth and extent of the scandal continues to grow.
The bank insisted in November that customers who paid fees on unauthorized accounts must follow forced arbitration clauses written into those accounts’ contracts. Those clauses ban customers from seeking damages by joining class-action suits.
Wells Fargo also reportedly opened Prudential life insurance policies for customers without their consent, and charged auto loan customers for insurance they never purchased.
House Financial Services Committee members from both parties are investigating the bank, as are multiple federal regulators. Top congressional Democrats and progressive leaders, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) have called on the Federal Reserve to remove Wells Fargo’s board of directors.