Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Minor trouble shouldn't mean long ban from banks

Banks are under no legal obligation to do business with people who have been financially irresponsible. Even so, the common practice of blacklisting customers who have made minor financial missteps and denying them access to basic banking is an abuse that hurts the economy, young adults and poor neighborhoods. It's up to consumer advocates and state regulators to push banks to adopt fairer rules.

Placement on a blacklist for bouncing checks or overdrawing on an account can last five years. That is a long time for people to have no access traditional banking and few options aside from expensive check cashing services and high-fee prepaid cards. The New York attorney general reached an agreement with Capital One last month to expand access to banking for customers who appear on the blacklist. Other banks should follow suit. Banks should not use vetting systems to shut out legitimate customers who deserve a second chance.

Some of the nation's largest banks and credit unions use ChexSystems, a national credit bureau that screens applicants who apply for checking or savings accounts. The database and others like it are designed to flag serial bad check writers and potentially fraudulent activity. But in addition to rooting out bad players, the system has tagged victims of identity theft, low-income people, students and young professionals who are just learning how to become financially independent. They include a 25-year-old who bounced checks in college but later repaid her bank, and a 36-year-old who makes six figures a year but cannot get a bank account because of past troubles.

More than a million Americans are blacklisted, according to the New York Times. New York has reached out to six banks, including Bank of America, Capital One and JPMorgan, and expressed concern that they might be "improperly denying or otherwise restricting banking access to New York consumers." But the problem is nationwide. New York's attorney general said Capital One has agreed to roll back some of its practices and pledged to stop trying to predict if applicants pose a credit risk for basic banking.

Financial institutions should not take advantage of consumers with brief financial troubles, especially when those people have repaid their debts. Banks should work with customers who have received what amounts to a financial scarlet letter for minor mismanagement. Providing credit counseling and creating products targeted at young and low-income earners are good places to start.

Consumers who want to do business with banks have a responsibility to carefully manage their money and seek help if they foresee trouble. Parents, schools and credit counselors also can play a role by ensuring that young people understand basic financial literacy. While balancing a checkbook may seem obsolete for today's consumers who rely on debit cards and ATMs, the ability to accurately track spending and income and understand interest rates remain important skills. Federal law allows consumers to receive a free copy of their credit report annually. The same is true for databases that record checking and savings account histories. Consumers should make acquiring both documents a part of their annual financial checkup.

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Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18