The scandal at Wells Fargo over the creation of unauthorized accounts shook its customers’ faith in the bank, but it took an even sharper toll on the company’s workers.

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The scandal at Wells Fargo over the creation of unauthorized accounts shook its customers’ faith in the bank, but it took an even sharper toll on the company’s workers. A number of them say they faced a stark choice: Create new accounts by any means possible, or risk being fired for falling short of their sales goals.

Several former Wells Fargo employees gave The New York Times firsthand accounts, by email or by phone interview, of how that pressure affected them, and of the ethical shortcuts they say they saw colleagues take. The following are excerpts. Some people asked to be identified only by their first name and last initial, to protect their future employment prospects.

Wells Fargo responded by saying it had “made fundamental changes” since the scandal came to light.

“From that point, I began drinking the hand sanitizer.”

— Angie Payden, banker in Hudson, Wis., 2011 to 2014

Actions that I was forced to do as a banker included:

1). Opening travel checking accounts for customers by convincing them that it was unsafe to travel without a separate checking account and debit card;

2). Coercing customers to open credit-card accounts to use as overdraft protection for their checking accounts when they were already struggling to keep their checking accounts balanced;

3). Witnessing other bankers and being pressured by management to add credit defense onto new credit applications without the customer’s knowledge, which led to unnecessary monthly fees;

4). Closing and opening new accounts for customers by convincing them that there had been fraud on their existing accounts.

I started to have extreme physical stress-related symptoms as well as random panic attacks. At some point during that summer, the stress was so intense that I could no longer handle the pressure. On the banker’s desk, in the bathroom, behind the teller line and in the vault, the store kept bottles of hand sanitizer.

One morning, before meeting with a customer, in which I knew I was going to have to sell unneeded services, I had a severe panic attack. I went to the bathroom and took a drink of some hand sanitizer.

This immediately reduced my anxiety. From that point, I began drinking the hand sanitizer all over the bank.

In late November 2012, I was completely addicted to hand sanitizer and drinking at least a bottle a day during my workday. In December, I was confronted by management about my behavior. I decided to seek treatment and went on leave.

The recent news stories have reactivated my memories and PTSD. I am now having nightmares and flashbacks of that time period. It is horrible.

“I thought I was having a heart attack.”

— Scott T., teller and sales/service representative in Galesburg, Ill., 2009

I believe my daily product sales goal was six a day. It didn’t matter if you had 20 products one day, you still had to meet your goal every other day. A seasoned banker taught me to put fake appointments on your calendar, and then have them “cancel and rebook” for another day.

I was once scolded for not selling an elderly lady a credit card by telling her that she could use it as a form of ID if she went to a teller who didn’t know her. Even if a customer didn’t want access to online banking, we were taught to force them into it. If they didn’t have an email to use for online banking, make one up. Once they logged into online banking for the first time, you made a sale.

There were numerous days where I would hide in the men’s bathroom crying. It got so bad that one day I left work to go to the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack. It turns out it was an anxiety attack. I thought I was going to have a heart attack or stroke if I stayed any longer.

“Even though I was reaching my sales goals, it was not enough.”

— Dennise C., teller and banker in Houston, 2010 to 2016

Managers kept a board right by the teller line where we would write how many people we had talked to, how many we had referred to a banker and how many sales were closed. At the end of the day, the manager would call out each teller in front of everybody and share their results. It was a frightening experience. If tellers did not have any sales on the board, you did not want to be that person.

The last three months were hell. Even though I was reaching my sales goals, it was not enough for them. Every morning I had to sit with my boss and go over the previous day and every single customer’s relationship. I had to tell them why I didn’t force them into opening that third, fourth, fifth checking account that they could have used for Christmas, their son’s birthday, school, a pet and so on. I had to explain why I did not feel comfortable with pushing people into paying for something they did not need.