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Wells Fargo needs more time to review customer allegations

Posted August 4

— Wells Fargo & Co. is expanding an internal review of its sales practices and says the move could uncover significantly more accounts opened by bank employees without customers' consent.

The San Francisco bank disclosed the broadened review in a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wells Fargo has been trying to repair its reputation after admitting last fall that employees under pressure to meet aggressive sales targets opened as many as 2 million accounts without getting customers' permission. The company ended up paying $185 million to regulators and settled a class-action suit for $142 million.

The lender is now expanding its review of customer accounts going back to 2009. Initially, it planned to review accounts going back to 2011. It also expects to complete a review of potentially unauthorized accounts identified by a consulting firm.

"We expect that our review of the expanded time periods, which adds over three years to the initial review period of approximately four years ... may lead to a significant increase in the identified number of potentially unauthorized accounts," the company said in the filing.

Wells Fargo projects that its review will be finished by the end of the third quarter. It doesn't expect any costs stemming from the review to have a significant impact on the company.

Last month, the company disclosed that roughly 570,000 customers were signed up for and billed for car insurance that they didn't need or necessarily know about. Many couldn't afford the extra costs and fell behind in their payments. In about 20,000 cases, cars were repossessed.

The bank has agreed to pay $80 million in refunds and account adjustments to customers, with checks starting to go out this month.

Wells acknowledged that its systems signed up customers who already had insurance.

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