Banks Look to Step Up Employee Surveillance After Latest Scandal

Banks Look to Step Up Employee Surveillance After Latest Scandal

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Banks already using algorithms to monitor traders are looking to expand surveillance to cover more employees in the wake of the Wells Fargo scandal, according to Bloomberg.

Lenders asked IBM if it were possible to use the technology to also watch retail-banking salespeople, loan officers and other workers, according to Marc Andrews, a manager on the company’s Watson financial services team. Several of the biggest U.S. banks, as well as some regional banks, are testing the software, Andrews said.

IBM trained Watson to collect information that could’ve helped detect problems at Wells Fargo, which said last week that employees opened as many as 3.5 million bogus checking and credit-card accounts for unsuspecting customers, even more than its original estimate when the scandal broke last year.

Watson looks for suspicious logon patterns, unusual levels of unused products or accounts with mismatched contact information or email notifications that have been switched off. The AI program, which understands human language, sifts through employee emails for trends such as managers pressuring workers to make sales.

The hit to Wells Fargo’s reputation triggered the interest in increased surveillance. Regulators slapped the San Francisco-based bank with $185 million in fines of over its sales practices. After a contentious congressional hearing, the bank’s chief executive officer departed and management was overhauled.

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