Saturday, April 21, 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: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Airís safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administrationís reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrierís high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Womenís work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castroís handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Natureís Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. ē The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18