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Fifth Third employees opened fake accounts to meet sales goals, CFPB says

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Posted at 11:38 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 11:40:36-04

CINCINNATI, Ohio — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has filed a lawsuit against Fifth Third Bank, alleging the bank's employees opened fake accounts for customers in order to meet aggressive sales targets.

The federal regulator alleges that the bank knew its employees were opening fake accounts from at least 2008 and until 2016, the same year that Wells Fargo admitted its own employees had opened fake accounts to meet aggressive sales goals.

Fifth Third is also accused not taking sufficient steps to stop the conduct.

“Reasonable sales goals and performance incentives are not inherently harmful,” wrote the Bureau. “But when such programs are not carefully and properly implemented and monitored, as the Bureau alleges here, they may create incentives for employees to engage in misconduct in order to meet goals or earn additional compensation.”

The Bureau alleges that Fifth Third violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s prohibition against unfair and abusive acts or practices as well as the Truth in Lending Act and the Truth in Savings Act and their implementing regulations.

The Bureau is seeking an injunction to stop Fifth Third’s “unlawful conduct,” redress for affected consumers, and the imposition of a civil money penalty.

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third says the CFPB's lawsuit was unnecessary.

The bank says it had already investigated the allegations and found 1,100 accounts were opened fraudulently out of 10 million existing accounts.