The San Francisco-based financial services corporation, which turns 171 years old in 2023, has quite the storied history. No stranger to run-ins, regulators, and downright ruinous scandals, for better or for worse, Wells Fargo always seem to dominate the news cycle.
Take, for example, its storied account fraud scandal, whereby the bank created about 3.5 million fake accounts for customers without their knowledge or consent. The scandal resulted in an order by the Federal Reserve to freeze all its growth to $2 billion or under while it righted the ship.
Wells Fargo was also ordered to pay $175 million in settlements after allegations that the bank was offering higher mortgage rates and fees to racial minorities. Several years later, the bank was ordered to pay $8 million for allegedly discriminating against black job candidates.
As recently as 2022, Wells Fargo has been in trouble for fraud with the immediate payment app Zelle. It also found itself in hot water in 2022 for rejecting more mortgage applications by prospective black homeowners than it approved.
In December, the bank was ordered to pay a whopping $3.7 billion for loan mismanagement.
And we certainly can't forget its first high-profile transgression of 2023, when the bank was forced to fire Wells Fargo India Vice President Shankar Mishra for allegedly urinating on a female passenger on a flight to New Delhi in November.
If you're ever looking for a good, long piece of reading material, look up Wells Fargo's Wikipedia page, where there are no fewer than 25 unique sections related to the bank's fraudulent and controversial activity in his history.
Wells Fargo Is Trying to Recover from its Many Scandals
It's only been a few weeks since Wells Fargo's last scandal but the bank seems to be trying to blaze a path toward recovery following its Q4 earnings report.
"As I look back at '22, I'm enthusiastic about the progress we've made this past year and feel even better about the opportunities ahead," Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said in January's earnings call.
"Let me start with the changes we've made during the year to help millions of customers avoid overdraft fees and meet short-term cash needs. These efforts included the elimination of non-sufficient funds fees and transfer fees for customers enrolled in overdraft protection, early payday making eligible direct deposits available up to two days early, extra-day grace, giving eligible customers an extra business day to make deposits to avoid overdraft fees."
While these changes certainly don't erase Wells Fargo's history of scandals and insults, eliminating some overdraft and transfer fees, among other changes, is certainly a step in the right direction.
It's important to note that Wells Fargo isn't doing away with all fees entirely. Scharf makes it clear that overdraft fees will only disappear for customers who participate in their overdraft protection program. And only eligible accounts will benefit from its new early payday program.
Still, it's probably a very nice change for Wells Fargo customers, who've weathered countless troubles with the bank. Perhaps this step in the right direction is the first of many as the bank works to rehabilitate its reputation.