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Wells Fargo customers hit with double-bill payments and empty accounts in latest scandal for bank

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File photo of Wells Fargo bank. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images)

Some Wells Fargo banking customers had their accounts emptied after their automatic online bill payments were processed twice, according to published reports. The mishap marked the latest in a series of embarrassing consumer scandals — some bigger than others — for Wells Fargo.

The bank's customer service phone lines were set ablaze Wednesday night as angry customers called to find out where their money went, reports stated. Some people received email notifications stating they had a zero balance in their checking accounts. Wells Fargo declined to say how many accounts were affected.

The bank blamed it on an "internal processing error."

“We are aware of the online Bill Pay situation which was caused by an internal processing error,” Wells Fargo communications manager Hilary O’Byrne said in a statement. “We are currently working to correct it, and there is no action required for impacted customers at this time. Any fees or charges that may have been incurred as a result of this error will be taken care of. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Dozens of customers took to social media to vent their frustration and anger over the mistake. Some customers reported that their accounts were restored to normal by Thursday morning.

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What other problems has the bank faced?

In August, thousands of Wells Fargo banking customers across the nation were enrolled in online bill pay without their permission, CNN reported. An investigation showed that about 528,000 unauthorized bill payments were made, the report stated.

In 2016, Wells Fargo was fined by regulators for allegedly opening millions of fake customer bank accounts and credit cards. The issue came up again in August, when the number of fake accounts was raised to 3.5 million, according to published reports.

In 2017, the bank came under fire for allegedly forcing car insurance on auto loan customers, the New York Times reported. An estimated 800,000 people were charged for car insurance they didn’t need, “and some of them are still paying for it,” the report stated.

Wells Fargo is also being sued for allegedly making unauthorized changes to home loans for customers in bankruptcy, according to published reports.

Last week, Wells Fargo told analysts that litigation fees resulted in a “$3.25 billion fourth-quarter hit to earnings," Bloomberg news reported. In a statement, Wells Fargo said the fees relate to “a variety of matters, including mortgage-related regulatory investigations, sales practices, and other consumer-related matters.”

Some of the practices were the result of lofty sales goals set by the bank, according to published reports.

In the third quarter, the bank faced a $1 billion charge toward a potential settlement with regulators for sales prior to the mortgage crisis. Litigation costs have driven the bank’s expense ratio for 2017 to the highest levels in more than 20 years, reports stated.

Wells Fargo could be one of the biggest benefactors of the federal tax overhaul, according to reports. Last week, Wells Fargo announced it plans to close an additional 800 branches by 2020, a move it says is related to customers' preference for online banking.

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