Wells Fargo fined for harming customers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wells Fargo fined for harming customers

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Customers of one of the nation's biggest banks may be re-thinking where they keep their money. 

"It's pretty shocking," said Nate Condon, a financial advisor with WalknerCondon Financial Advisors. 

Wells Fargo was hit with a landmark fine, $185-million for opening millions of unauthorized accounts for their customers. 

"From an evaluation standpoint, Wells Fargo is the most valuable bank in the U.S., that's why it's so shocking," Condon added. 

Federal regulators say employees at the bank secretly created more than 1.5 million phony accounts using customer information without them knowing. Now, roughly 5,300 employees are fired. Condon, who used to work with Wells Fargo right out of college, says the company simply put its best interests first. 

"Their intent was not necessarily to help clients through opening ghost accounts or fake accounts, it was to help their own situations through bonuses and through the contests they were having," Condon noted.

He says those monthly goals aren't something new in the banking industry. 

"Each bank defines how they do their goal setting and their quotas differently, but I know it's a common practice," said Condon. 

Meaning whether you use Wells Fargo or another bank, you should always ask questions. 

"It's not a bad idea to ask the person that you're working with, are you subject to these? You know, is your compensation even in part based on whether or not you hit certain numbers on a monthly basis." Condon described. 

Still, Condon says Americans should continue to trust banks to a certain degree.

"We still should trust banks and banking institutions. I think really what we need to look at it, is from a consumer standpoint --are we asking the right questions of the financial professionals that we're working with," he said. 

The Los Angeles City Attorney says the settlement includes millions of dollars in civil penalties to affected customers. 

In a statement, Wells Fargo said in part, "While we regret every interaction that was not handled properly, the number of instances and team members involved represent a very small portion of our business." 

So far, there's no word on any customers affected in the Madison area. 

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