- U.S. Bank was fined for using customer data to open sham accounts and new lines of credit without permission.
- Employees were pressured to access customer credit reports and open new accounts to inflate sales numbers.
- The bank is required to pay $37.5 million and return any illegal fees and charges — with interest.
The Consumer Financial Protections Bureau, following a five-year investigation, found that US Bancorp, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States, pressured employees to meet sales goals by creating fraudulent checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and lines of credit without customers’ permission.
“For over a decade, U.S. Bank knew its employees were taking advantage of its customers by misappropriating consumer data to create fictitious accounts,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a statement. “We all must do more to hold lawbreaking companies accountable when they abuse and misuse our sensitive personal data.”
The CFPB investigation found evidence that U.S. Bank officials were aware of the pressure facing employees to create fake accounts and not only did not intervene, but held incentive-compensation programs that financially rewarded employees for selling bank products and opening new accounts.
In addition to the $37.5 million fine, Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank will be required to refund any illegally collected fees and charges related to the fraudulent accounts and pay impacted consumers‘ interest.
In a statement provided to Insider, a U.S. Bank spokesperson said the settlement was related to “legacy sales practices involving a small percentage of accounts” dating back to 2010. In response to the illegal sales practices, they said the bank has made process and oversight improvements since 2016 to address the concerns.
“The action by the CFPB closes out a 5+ year investigation,” the U.S. Bank spokesperson told Insider. “We are pleased to put this matter behind us.”
The U.S. Bank fine is not the first time a major bank has been found illegally creating accounts for unsuspecting customers without their permission. In 2016, Wells Fargo settled with regulators for $185 million after 2 million fake accounts were found to have been illegally created by employees to increase their cross-sell ratio.