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Wells Fargo New Account Openings Dive By 44 Percent

After a massive sales scandal, Wells Fargo customers are jumping off the stagecoach.
File photo of a Wells Fargo bank branch in Golden, Colorado
The Wells Fargo bank branch is seen in Golden, Colorado. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files

Wells Fargo customers are jumping off the stagecoach.

The embattled San Francisco-based bank announced Thursday that new account openings had fallen by 44 percent in October year-over-year and new credit card applications had plummeted by 50 percent. Foot traffic to branches is also down, with "branch banker interactions" down 22 percent from a year ago, and teller transactions down 10 percent.

The figures come in the wake of a far-reaching sales practice scandal that triggered multiple lawsuits, a record $185 million fine, the resignation of the company's longtime CEO John Stumpf, and pledges of a complete corporate overhaul.

It's the first full-month portrait of customer activity after Wells Fargo announced it would end the practices that drove its bankers to try to upsell account holders on additional products.

Related: Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf Retires, Effective Immediately

Ex-employees said they had to meet strict daily signup quotas and would work overtime to meet them, pressuring customers, signing up friends and family, and created accounts without their customers' consent. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wells Fargo bankers opened up 2 million unauthorized accounts for customers in order to reap additional fees.

The bank is now facing several lawsuits over its consumer banking practices. In October, former Wells Fargo bankers who had tried to speak out against the practices also sued the company for $10 billion for allegedly smearing their careers by putting bad marks on a kind of banker's report card.

The Department of Justice and the California Attorney General's Office have also launched investigations.

The disclosure was an unusual reveal of information that banks normally keep secret and was done in an "ongoing commitment to transparency," Chief Executive Tim Sloan said in a statement.

Not known is how much of the dropoff was from customers staying away and how much was from bankers ending the practice of opening up phony accounts.

Wells Fargo stocks are up 3 percent since the news Thursday, riding a wave that buoyed other U.S. banking giants, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup and Bank of America.