Friday, September 9, 2016

Could be special charges for me!

Saw the news yesterday that 5,300 Wells Fargo employees---or about two percent of the entire company's workforce---were fired for opening millions of phony accounts for their customers. These were used to make the employees look productive. CNN reports that "Employees went so far as to create phony PIN numbers and fake email addresses to enroll customers in online banking services, the CFPB said."

I don't know if it's CNN or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that does not know that the N in PIN stands for Number, but it appears not to have been the CFPB, so it must have been geniuses at CNN. Never mind about that now.

Anyway, just how bad was this scandal?

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.

That bad.

It's scary enough these days to do anything with money. If you use your credit card in a restaurant, the spiky-hair ink queen who thinks 20 percent isn't enough for her sterling service will steal your number and help herself to an extra tip. You use a card in the gas station and find out later some SOB* stuck a skimmer in there to steal your swipe. You sit down and write checks like me (call me Gramps!) and some schmuck steals them out of the mailbox. Now you can't even trust the bank to not screw you just so some low-level punk can get a bonus without having to work for it.

Wells Fargo has changed a lot since its early days a provider of financial and delivery services to the west. Its position in our Western lore has always made the organization seem brave and good. It has inspired endless novels, a 1937 movie, a 1951 movie, a 1956 TV show, and of course this:

But in the end, it's just another company.

Wells Fargo is not my bank, so at least this is one bullet I've dodged. But I've gotten warnings in the past from plenty of places I do business with, like Home Depot, who find their data compromised. I'm thinking about going back to those old Western days, puttin' mah money in a metal box, buryin' it somewhere in the back forty, and watchin' over it with mah shootin' iron. Try'n hack that, ya goldurn sidewindin' bushwhackers!


* Or, as CNN would call him, some SOB bitch.

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