CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It's been a rough week for one of Charlotte's biggest employers, Wells Fargo.
The banking company is now under criminal investigation following their loss of accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.
Wells Fargo is being probed over allegations of criminal identity theft by the California Department of Justice, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
The bank was served with a search warrant on October 5 from the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, The Los Angeles Times reports. This adds California's Department of Justice to the pile-on of state regulators investigating the bank. Harris is running for the U.S. Senate as the Democratic candidate to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) in the 2016 election.
Harris' department is seeking information associated with the upwards of two million accounts that were allegedly opened by Wells Fargo employees without consumers' consent or knowledge.
California's Department of Justice is pursuing two violations, that of impersonation and other of improperly using personal information, the Los Angeles Times says. Both can be charged as felonies, the Los Angeles Times says.
Locally, the bank is feeling their latest setback after losing its accreditation with the Better Business Bureau.
“Nobody can recall a company of this size, this scope, losing their accreditation,” said Thomas Bartholomy, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont.
The incident comes following reports of stealing from customers and using misleading sales tactics and Wells Fargo employees opened at least 2,000,000 fake, fee-generating accounts without customers’ knowledge.
Since then, the bank has fired more than 5,000 employees involved.
Based on the severity of this investigation and actions taken by the federal government, the company’s high rating has fallen to a point where it is no longer qualified to be accredited by the BBB.
“There’s no cure. That government action is going to be on their record for three years,” Bartholomy said.
So it could be another three years before Wells Fargo is eligible for accreditation.
However, there’s good news for customers.
With so many eyes on the company, Bartholomy said customers are probably more safe banking with the Wells Fargo now than in recent years.
“They put practices in place to make sure that what had happened isn’t going to happen again. And that if there is any instance of this that’s reported to them through BBB or whomever, that they’ve got the protocol in place to address it quickly and have it stopped and resolved to the customers satisfaction.”
Bartholomy said the BBB is still serving Wells Fargo customers.
If you have any complaints, you can still submit those through the Better Business Bureau.
Wells Fargo released a statement to NBC Charlotte Tuesday evening:
We will continue to work hard to restore our customers’ trust and are focused on providing the best service to our customers. Our No. 1 priority is making things right with our customers and restoring public trust, and we are dedicated to ensuring that all aspects of the company’s business are conducted with integrity, transparency, and oversight. We have already taken important steps, and will continue to do so, to ensure that the sales culture in our retail banking business is 100 percent aligned with our customers’ interests, including ending product sales goals for everyone in the retail banking business to make certain nothing gets in the way of doing what’s right for customers.
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