Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Wells Fargo Created Fake Accounts for Nearly 10,000 Small Businesses

More information is being discovered in relation to Wells Fargo's recent scandal, showing that nearly 10,000 small businesses were also victims of the banking giant's illegal and corrupt up-selling practices. Despite CEO John Stumpf claiming ignorance as to whether small businesses were affected when he testified before the House Financial Services Committee, Senator David Vitter has discovered that thousands of small businesses have been affected by the fraudulent practices.

It may not be much of a relief, nor will most believe Wells Fargo, but the bank claims that the small business customers that were affected were included in the original count of the consumer retail accounts that were affected. However, the Consumer Financial Protection Board directly contradicted Wells Fargo statement on this issue, stating that the 2 million accounts already identified didn't include small business accounts.

2 Million Accounts and Counting

While the banking giant claims to have already refunded 115,000 regular customers that were victimized by the bank's illegal, fraudulent actions, the number of fake accounts created numbers in the millions. Allegedly, customers affected by these actions do not need to do anything to receive a refund of the fees that were stolen from them, however, the CFPB is accepting complaints and recommending that Wells Fargo customers check their accounts to confirm that there have been no unauthorized accounts created without their knowledge.

According to Reuters, despite having already refunded over 100,000 customers, Wells Fargo claims that the problems only effected relatively few customers and employees.

What Should a Small Business Owner Do?

If you're a small business owner that banks with Wells Fargo, you may already be considering moving your accounts to a different bank. If that is the case, consider not only your operation accounts, but also any business debt you may have with the bank. If you have a small business loan or vendors that receive automatic payments, or are using a business line of credit to meet your payroll while accounts receivable works their magic, make sure that you're accounting for everything so your transition to a new bank doesn't upset your business operations.

For small business owners that are not considering leaving Wells Fargo, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of your accountant, or to hire a forensic accountant, to review your Wells Fargo accounts for fraudulent activity.

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