Wells Fargo's aggressive sales tactics hit small firms: WSJ

Wells Fargo has restructured its credit card processing business after an internal probe found some employees had falsely reported customer sales numbers, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

This raises questions about the scope of the sales scandal that hit the lender's retail banking business last year and cost Chief Executive John Stumpf his job.

The probe also found that employees had pushed small firms toward more expensive contracts as part of aggressive sales tactics, the Journal reported.

Wells Fargo was not immediately available for comment.

The company had said on a conference call in January that it had made progress on evaluating potentially unauthorized credit card accounts, including any impact to customers' credit scores and analysis of credit signatures to verify authorization.

"We want to identify anyone who was negatively impacted so we can make things right," Chief Executive Tim Sloan said on the call.

Merchants have battled for years with banks, in the courts and in Congress, over how much they must pay for accepting card payments.

Revelations of Wells Fargo's problems with small-business customers come almost a month after it reached a $190 million settlement over opening as many as 2 million accounts in retail customers' names without their knowledge.

The bank has said it fired more than 5,000 employees for improperly opening the accounts.

Wells Fargo is also battling lawsuits from former employees, customers and shareholders related to the issue.

Shares of Wells Fargo, which is expected to report first-quarter results on April 13, were up 0.3 percent in premarket trading.