Is your bank out to get you? If you’ve paid any attention whatsoever to the financial world over the past decade, you’d probably answer “yes.” Though not every bank is actively trying to rob you blind, the big banks of the world are businesses. And businesses spend almost all of their time trying to do one of two things: increase revenues or cut costs.
Sometimes, these seemingly innocuous actions can blow up into full-blown scandals. Other times, they create mild annoyances for us in the form of new fees or charges. It sucks, but unless you’re willing to take your money to another institution, such as a credit union, things aren’t going to change. In fact, things are probably never going to change, so we might as well get used to it.
But it’s still surprising to learn banks will go out of their way to hurt their customers. And they will actively teach their employees to do so, in some cases. Take the recent scandal involving Wells Fargo, for example. More than 5,000 employees were taught to screw customers over by selling them products they didn’t need or even opening up bogus accounts in their names. (More on that in a minute.) Wells Fargo issued a report looking into its own rotten dealings, which said internal cultural issues were to blame.
That might or might not put your mind at ease. But know this: Had it not been caught, Wells Fargo would probably still be doing it. And that goes for all of the other banks out there that are manipulating interest rates, laundering drug money, or pushing to kill consumer protections.
So how are banks actively screwing over you and other customers? We’ll start with the opening of bogus accounts because that is still a relatively new revelation.
1. Opening bogus accounts
This was at the heart of the most recent Wells Fargo scandal. Basically, Wells Fargo employees were opening additional accounts under customers’ names, so the company could charge fees on those accounts. Employees reportedly created as many as 2 million fake accounts by the time the scandal came to light. It ultimately led to the firing of 5,300 employees.