Wells Fargo has been fined $185 million for illegally opening accounts to boost sales targets.
The cash will go to regulators while Wells Fargo will also hand back $5 million to customers.
The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CSFB) accused the US’ biggest bank of “widespread illegal practice” around account openings, sales targets and compensation incentives.
Wells Fargo said in a statement: “We regret instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request.”
The CSFB announced the fine and said Wells Fargo must also hire an independent consultant for a review.
“Because of the severity of these violations, Wells Fargo is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed,” said CSFB first director Richard Cordray.
The CSFB investigation found that to meet sales targets and possibly gain more compensation bank workers had “illegally” signed up customers for more than 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts.
Employees also issued debit cards without customers’ knowledge, even creating fake email addresses to unknowingly sign up consumers to online-banking services, the CSFB said.
Wells Fargo said it set up an independent review of its sales practices dating back to 2011 and had taken “disciplinary actions, including terminations of managers and team members who acted counter to our values”.