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Senate Committee Eyes Wells Fargo Scandals’ Potential Impact On SMBs

U.S. Senators have begun pressing Wells Fargo to explore whether the fake account scandal impacted small businesses as well as individual consumers, according to Small Biz Trends reports.

The publication noted Tuesday (Sept. 26) that Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) had sent a letter to Wells Fargo CEO Timothy J. Sloan on behalf of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The letter raised concerns over how Wells Fargo’s opening of fake accounts may have negatively affected its small business customers.

“Given the significant number of small business customers using Wells Fargo products, I am concerned about your recent statement that your review of Wells Fargo’s operations could yield additional problems with the bank’s practices,” the Senator wrote in the letter, sent last week.

The letter referenced revelations from Sloan that the scandal could be more widespread than previously believed, with up to 1.4 million more fake accounts possibly created. Sloan added he will continue to investigate and determine the breadth and scope of the scandal.

Senator Shaheen noted in the letter that Wells Fargo is “the largest provider of loans under $1 million to small businesses.”

“Recent disclosures by Wells Fargo have shown that fraudulent practices extended beyond the initial fake accounts scandal, reaching auto insurance and mortgage customers,” the letter stated. “As the impact of this controversy continues to be revealed, I request that you provide me with information regarding your review of Wells Fargo’s practices as it relates to small business lending.”

The letter was sent just weeks before Sloan is slated to testify before the U.S. Senate regarding the scandal, revelations of which first appeared in 2013. Employees were reportedly incentivized to open fake accounts without customer approval in order to meet quotas. Reports said Sloan could be pressed on how the scandal may have affected small business customers and Wells’ small business lending operations when he testifies in October.

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