Wells Fargo card requests down by 55 percent

Applictions drop by most since scandal erupted

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Wells Fargo said credit-card applications dropped 55 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest decline since a scandal involving fake accounts erupted in September.

Retail customers opened 43 percent fewer checking accounts in February, marking the sixth straight month of declines since regulators fined the bank over the creation of unauthorized accounts.

“It will take time for us to work through the changes we are making in our business, but we remain focused on strengthening our relationships with existing customers and building new ones with potential customers,” Mary Mack, head of community banking at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, said Monday in a statement.

Wells Fargo executives have been working since September to extricate the lender from a torrent of public criticism following the scandal in the retail unit that’s cost the institution at least $200 million. The board has sought to hold executives accountable, withholding cash bonuses for eight leaders including CEO Tim Sloan.

Wells Fargo has been releasing monthly data on the retail unit’s performance following the Sept. 8 revelation that employees may have opened as many as two million deposit and credit-card accounts over a half decade without customers’ permission.

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