Background Checks

In a recent CNNMoney online story by Matt Egan, it was reported that Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees who “secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts—without their customers knowing it—since 2011.”  The article goes on to say, “The phony accounts earned the bank unwarranted fees and allowed Wells Fargo employees to boost their sales figures and make more money.”

Discussing the scope of the scandal, it was reported that “an analysis conducted by a consulting firm hired by Wells Fargo concluded that bank employees opened over 1.5 million deposit accounts that may not have been authorized.

“The way it worked was that employees moved funds from customers’ existing accounts into newly-created ones without their knowledge or consent, regulators say.  The CFPB described this practice as ‘widespread.’  Customers were being charged for insufficient funds or overdraft fees—because there wasn’t enough money in their original accounts.

“Additionally, Wells Fargo employees also submitted applications for 565,443 credit card accounts without their customers’ knowledge or consent.  Roughly 14,000 of those accounts incurred over $400,000 in fees, including annual fees, interest charges and overdraft-protection fees.”

While the scope of the scandal is shocking, one cannot help but wonder what sort of pre-employment screening system, if any, was in place at Wells Fargo when all these people were hired.  Whether they did check or not, here’s the real harm to Wells Fargo: “Customers are fuming.  Brian Kennedy, a Maryland retiree, told CNNMoney he detected an unauthorized Wells Fargo account had been created in his name about a year ago.  He asked Wells Fargo about it and the bank closed it, he said.  ‘I didn’t sign up for any bloody checking account,’ Kennedy, who is 57 years old, told CNNMoney. ‘They lost me as a banking customer and I have warned family and friends.’”

Now, it’s entirely possible that Wells Fargo does check out candidates for employment and that nothing could have been done to prevent this sandal, but this incredible incident should demonstrate to every employer why it’s better to do a pre-employment check before making any hiring decisions!