This year hasn’t been the best for banking and financial services company Wells Fargo. Earlier this year, news broke that federal prosecutors were investigating the as many as 2 million sham customer accounts Wells Fargo admitted holding, which led to a $185 million fine levied on the banking giant.
A few months, a new CEO and a meeting with Congress later, it has come to light that Wells Fargo employees may have signed up bank customers for partner Prudential’s insurance policy without customer knowledge or permission. In some cases, Wells Fargo employees reportedly arranged for monthly premium fees to be withdrawn from customer accounts.
Evidence in a wrongful termination lawsuit levied at Prudential by three whistleblowers suggests that Wells Fargo employees were encouraged to direct clients to sign up for the MyTerm insurance policy — employees received credit on quarterly sales quotas if they signed up new customers.
Some Wells Fargo bankers even appear to have signed people up for MyTerm without telling them. A reported 15,000 MyTerm accounts were investigated. Bankers are alleged to have opened, closed and reopened MyTerm policies to bolster sales numbers.
When investigators reviewed taped calls to Prudential’s customer service line, said The New York Times, they found numerous instances of complaints launched from Wells Fargo customers about policies they did not remember buying.
Reportedly, a number of the customers in question didn’t speak English. The lawsuit states that MyTerm insurance policies had been “sold predominantly to individuals with Hispanic-sounding last names concentrated in southern California, southern Texas, southern Arizona and southern Florida.” Annual premiums average $288.71 for insurance policies sold via Wells Fargo.
Additionally, customers signed up for MyTerm had false addresses listed on their applications, like “Wells Fargo Drive.” Policy applications also featured questionable customer phone numbers and email addresses. “Cellphone numbers were listed as emails, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, which was very similar to how fraudulent bank accounts were opened at Wells Fargo Bank,” said the lawsuit.