Bank of America, which is based in Minneapolis and has over $559 billion in assets, pressured its employees to meet sales goals as part of their job requirements by offering them incentives for selling banking products, said the regulator. To accomplish these goals, bank employees illegally accessed customers’ credit reports and personal information to open unauthorized accounts, the investigation found.
The CFBP announced Thursday that it fined Bank of America $37.5 million, following a five-year investigation.
“For more than a decade, US Bank knew that its employees were taking advantage of its customers by misappropriating customer data to create fictitious accounts,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a press release.
In a statement to CNN Business, US Bank said it has “made process and oversight improvements” since 2016 related to sales practice concerns. Employees now receive incentives only for accounts where the customer uses the service.
The settlement is “related to legacy sales practices involving a small percentage of accounts dating back to 2010,” US Bank said in a statement on Saturday. “We are pleased to put this matter behind us.”
US Bank has over 2,800 branches across the United States.
The CFBP said its investigation found evidence the bank was aware that its employees opened accounts without the authorization of customers and had no measures for their prevention and detection. The bank’s sales campaigns and compensation programs rewarded employees for selling bank products, the agency added.
Regulators found that employees opened deposit accounts, carried credit cards and lines of credit high interest rates and expensive fees passed on to the customer.
“U.S. Bank’s conduct harmed its customers in the form of junk accounts, negative effects on their credit profiles and loss of control over personally identifiable information,” CFBP said in its release, saying customers were forced to closed unauthorized accounts in the names and demand refunds themselves.