Wells Fargo has long been the envy of the banking industry for its ability to sell multiple products to the same customer, but regulators on Thursday said those practices went too far in some instances.
The largest U.S. bank by market capitalization will pay $185 million in penalties and $5 million to customers that regulators say were pushed into fee-generating accounts they never requested.
“We regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request,” the bank said of a settlement reached Thursday with California prosecutors and federal regulators.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will receive $100 million of the total penalties – the largest fine ever levied by the federal agency.
“Today’s action should serve notice to the entire industry that financial incentive programs, if not monitored carefully, carry serious risks that can have serious legal consequences,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
Los Angeles officials and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency were also party to the settlement.
In a complaint filed in May 2015, California prosecutors alleged that Wells Fargo pushed customers into costly financial products that they did not need or even request.
Bank employees were told that the average customer tapped six financial tools but that they should push households to use eight products, according to the complaint.
The bank opened more than 2 million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized, the CFPB said Thursday.