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Wells Fargo just lost its accreditation with the Better Business Bureau

The bank is now rated "C-" and may be the biggest business ever to lose the agency's stamp of approval.

A customer leaves an ATM at a Wells Fargo branch in Denver.
Rick Wilking | Reuters
A customer leaves an ATM at a Wells Fargo branch in Denver.

Among all of the indignities Wells Fargo has sustained in the wake of its illegal sales scandal, the bank is now out of good standing with a leading consumer watchdog group.

The San Francisco-based lender is no longer accredited by the Better Business Bureau, making it possibly the biggest business ever to fall into that category.

"Nobody can recall a company of this size, this scope, losing their accreditation," Thomas Bartholomy, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont, told WCNC, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The BBB website lists Wells Fargo as "not BBB accredited" and gives it a grade of "C-" on a scale of "A+" to "F." The bureau reports 4,105 total complaints against the bank in a three-year period including 1,201 in the past year.

Of the 107 reviews on the site, all but four are negative.

Those numbers, though, aren't particularly unusual. Citigroup, for instance, has 4,354 complaints in the same period and isn't accredited, though it isn't clear whether the bank ever sought the BBB's stamp of approval. It has no letter grade.

Bank of America, by contrast, is accredited with an "A+" rating. Still, it has seen 6,315 complaints closed against it over the same three-year period.

Citi and BofA could not be reached for comment.

The Wells Fargo move comes as the bank looks to restore its reputation amid revelations that it signed up some 2 million customers for programs without their knowledge or permission. Pressure to enroll customers in multiple offerings, known as cross-selling, is common in banking.

Wells Fargo had to pay a $185 million fine in conjunction with its illegal tactics, just one of the reasons it lost the BBB accreditation.

"There's no cure. That government action is going to be on their record for three years," Bartholomy said. Bureau officials were not available for additional comment.

Wells Fargo officials did not respond to a request for comment, but released a statement to WCNC reiterating a pledge to work hard to restore customer trust. The bank said it is "dedicated to ensuring that all aspects of the company's business are conducted with integrity, transparency and oversight."