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Stephen Gandel

Wells Fargo Still Hasn’t Gotten Ahead of Its Problems

An ad campaign that says “trust us” isn’t very convincing when scandals keep emerging.

Patience with CEO Tim Sloan will eventually run out.

Patience with CEO Tim Sloan will eventually run out.

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

Wells Fargo & Co. has recently launched a series of advertisements meant to rebuild trust with customers. But the ads, to pull an image from Wells Fargo’s long-ago campaigns, are putting the wagon before the horse.

Evidence of that is pilling up. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wells Fargo recently discovered that employees were improperly altering the documents of business borrowers, adding information to the accounts without the consent or notifying the clients. It’s not clear that altering the documents cost clients any money — a Wells Fargo spokesperson says it didn’t — but the problem is it has that familiar whiff of going behind customers’ backs, even though this is apparently on a smaller scale than Wells’s earlier scandal of phony accounts. Wells says that the activity continued to occur as recently as this year, and that it has reported the infractions to regulators.