Wells Fargo May Have Found More Fake Accounts Created by Employees

Wells Fargo, already struggling to rebuild its reputation after a scandal over the creation of fraudulent bank accounts, signaled on Friday that it could have more bad news coming.

The bank said in a regulatory filing that its review of potentially unauthorized accounts could reveal a “significant increase” in the number of accounts involved, up from the 2.1 million that it previously estimated. Wells Fargo said it had expanded its investigation to add three years to its review period, which covered accounts opened from 2011 to mid-2015.

But Wells Fargo also indicated that it has a new regulatory issue looming: an investigation by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into whether customers were harmed by the bank’s practice of freezing, and in some cases closing, bank accounts suspected of being affected by fraudulent activity.

That issue had not been previously disclosed, according to Timothy J. Sloan, the bank’s chief executive, who mentioned it in an unusual public statement drawing attention to his company’s regulatory filing. In the statement, he also detailed the bank’s efforts to reassure its customers.

“To regain the trust we have lost, we must continue to be transparent with all our stakeholders and go beyond what has been asked of us by our regulators,” Mr. Sloan said. “Today’s regulatory filing reminds us of this, because it includes evidence of much of that work, particularly as we have identified problems that we have committed to fix.”

One of those problems came to light last week, when The New York Times published an article about Wells Fargo’s policy of charging some customers who took out car loans for auto insurance that they did not need or want. Some 20,000 customers may have lost their cars to repossession because of the added fees, by the bank’s own estimate.

Wells Fargo said it had discontinued the practice and would refund those who were improperly affected by it. In its filing on Friday, the company estimated the cost of those refunds at $80 million in cash and account adjustments.

But that remediation may not appease regulators and lawmakers, who remain on high alert after the bank’s past misdeeds.

Wells Fargo has been under fire since disclosing last September that its employees, under pressure to meet aggressive sales goals, created as many as several million fake accounts in the names of real customers — some of whom learned about the accounts only when they were charged fees for them. Wells Fargo paid $185 million in fines and penalties, and recently agreed to pay an additional $142 million to settle class-action claims over its unauthorized accounts.

Wells Fargo also said on Friday that it would pay $108 million to the federal government to settle an investigation into claims that it charged military veterans illegal fees to refinance their mortgages, costing taxpayers money when those government-guaranteed mortgages defaulted.

The bank also disclosed that it had notified regulatory agencies about its inadvertent release of clients’ personal information in response to a subpoena in civil litigation in New Jersey. The Times reported last month that thousands of customers appeared to have been affected by the accidental disclosure.

The bank’s roundup of legal and regulatory problems rattled investors. Wells Fargo’s shares closed on Friday down 1 percent, at $52.84, in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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