POCATELLO — The Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Pocatello will permanently close in May, Wells Fargo officials announced this week.
Wells Fargo Bank regional spokesperson Julie Fogerson told the Idaho State Journal in a Tuesday email that a decrease in customer traffic at the Wells Fargo Bank at 333 S. Main St. was the primary driver for the company’s decision to close the branch.
The branch is scheduled to close its doors for good on May 13.
“This is not an easy decision or one that we take lightly,” Fogerson wrote in her email. “We continually evaluate our branch network and make adjustments based on customer use, market factors, economic trends and competitor actions. This process leads to both expansions and consolidations. While branches continue to be important in serving our customers’ needs, we’re finding that more customers are using our wide range of digital capabilities for many of their banking needs. As a result, more transactions are happening outside the branch.”
Fogerson said that customers can continue using the Old Town Pocatello Wells Fargo Bank branch up until May 13.
The decision to close the Old Town Wells Fargo Bank leaves the Pocatello area with two remaining Wells Fargo branches, one at 950 Yellowstone Ave. near the Winco supermarket and the other at 4195 Yellowstone Ave. near the Pine Ridge Mall.
“Customer accounts will not be impacted, and there are two branches nearby,” Fogerson wrote in her email to the Journal. “The closest branch is on Yellowstone, approximately one mile away (from the Old Town branch). That branch has all of the services offered at (the Old Town) branch, as well as additional hours. The second (remaining) branch is also located on Yellowstone, approximately two miles away (from the Old Town branch).”
Stephanie Palagi, the executive director of Old Town Pocatello Inc. and the Historic Old Town Pocatello Foundation, told the Journal Tuesday she was unaware of the downtown Wells Fargo Bank branch’s pending closure but declined to comment further on the company’s decision.
Fogerson said that no matter how customers choose to use Wells Fargo, it is the company’s goal to make their banking as easy as possible.
“In addition to the two (remaining) branch locations (in the Pocatello area), Wells Fargo offers many other convenient ways to bank,” Fogerson wrote in her email, adding that customers can contact Wells Fargo via mail, phone, online at wellsfargo.com, the Wells Fargo Mobile app and text message.
While the decision to close the Old Town branch was not an easy one to make, Fogerson said Wells Fargo’s fraudulent account scandal that remains ongoing and originally surfaced in 2016 did not factor into the move.
The Wells Fargo account fraud scandal is an ongoing controversy brought about by the creation of millions of fraudulent savings and checking accounts on behalf of many Wells Fargo clients without their consent.
News of the fraud became widely known in late 2016 after various regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fined Wells Fargo a combined $185 million as a result of the illegal activity. The San Francisco-based company continues to face additional civil and criminal legal action as a result of the scandal.
“The closure is unrelated,” Fogerson wrote in her email when asked how the ongoing controversy influenced the decision to close the downtown Pocatello Wells Fargo branch. “In general, we’ve seen customer traffic decline over the past few years as a result of more customers choosing digital options for many of their banking needs. As a result, more transactions are happening outside the branch.”
Though Wells Fargo is making strides in its process of ensuring another fraudulent scandal doesn’t occur, the Federal Reserve is still prohibiting the company from future expansions.
According to Marketwatch.com, the Federal Reserve announced in February 2018, “that it was forcing Wells Fargo to oust board members and limit its growth, responding to a wave of abuses that include opening accounts for customers who didn’t request them.”
Fogerson said Wells Fargo has put transparency at the forefront and remains committed to providing the best possible experience for its customers.
“Wells Fargo continues to transform as we work to become the most customer-focused, efficient and innovative Wells Fargo ever,” Fogerson wrote in her email. “We are committed to transparency as we examine our company, fix the issues we find and make things right. We have made significant strides since 2016: We are simpler and less complex, and we have made fundamental changes to the way we approach risk management. Although there is more work to do, our progress is real and continuing.”