By: Amanda Hayes, Managing Editor
We put our trust into our banking systems. We sign our checks, deposit our hard-earned cash and leave feeling satisfied that we have our money in safe hands. Pop culture has started to bring to light that our trust cannot always be placed in big banks exposing the scams of 2008 with movies like The Big Short. The media has showed us corporate big shots taking money from the middle class and using it for their own personal gain. We watch these movies in amazement and sympathize for those affected in the crisis, and at the end of the movie we take our popcorn and leave never thinking that we could be involved. However, what happens when you discover that your bank has been involved in a scandal of over 1.5 million unauthorized deposit. Or discovering your funds have moved to another bank account without your knowledge and consent, but along with all of the bank fees. This is what has happened to countless Wells Fargo customers in a long-spanning scandal since 2011.
So, what happened? I know when I see countless banking terms and numbers I avert my eyes not wanting to decipher what is really happening. However, this is crucial information to know as the public. Let’s break this down into terms that we can all understand. The scandal came to light just last week, when it was confirmed that Wells Fargo employees have been creating secret unauthorized bank accounts to make target sales goals and to get promotions. Employees were not only moving funds from customer’s original accounts to new accounts, they also submitted 565,443 credit card accounts without customer consent which racked up to over $400,000 in total fees. Basically, employees were facing pressures to meet goals and gain promotions so they went as far as to create countless fake accounts. Employees even had to create fake PIN numbers and email addresses in order to meet these goals. Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees related to this behavior, yet many past employees are now speaking out to share their side of the story. Many employees have come forward saying they did try to call the ethics line and bring the issues to light and were just terminated for a reason such as “tardiness.” So, can we really even blame the employees for just trying to maintain a job?
Wells Fargo has accepted a fine of $185 million and an additional $5 million to refund customers. From a public relations standpoint, let’s take a closer look at how Wells Fargo is responding to their crisis. The brand started to address the crisis by simply outright accepting their punishment, which was a daunting amount of fees owed to their customers and the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau. In other efforts, Wells Fargo took to Twitter to apologize to their customers:
The tweets even are providing a direct quote from CEO John Stumpf who has been very active in the media in handling the recent crisis. John Stumpf addressed the issue at a hearing for the Senate Banking Committee but is handling a great deal of backlash since many feel that he shifted the blame of the scandal on the employees. With something this damaging to the bank’s reputation, it is difficult to see the best way to salvage their reputation with the public.
What do you think? We would love to hear from you, let us know in the comments if you agree with how Wells Fargo is handling the crisis or how you think they could have gone differently.