A state advocacy organization with offices in Rochester is out with a new report which contends that banks and credit unions are not doing enough to market their more affordable products to low and moderate income customers.
Barbara Van Kerkhove is a co-author of the report put out by the Empire Justice Center. She says the financial institutions they looked at often do have more affordable checking accounts and other products, but they aren’t making them very obvious.
“Most of the large banks in the Rochester area have accounts that have several of the criteria that make them affordable and consumer friendly, but then when we would go to their website to try to find more about it, it was pretty hard to out about it.”
Van Kerkhove says whatever money banking customers can save with these cheaper financial products is important, especially to people who don’t have a lot of income.
“Especially because nowadays it seems that working families don’t have an big cushion when there’s an emergency and so (with) these fees and the ‘surprise’ fees especially, are eating into that cushion when there’s an emergency…”
The report from the Empire Justice Center also recommends that banks have emergency and non-emergency, small loans available for customers that take into account the borrower’s ability to repay them.
The Center report recommends that banks meet with local consumer advocates to learn how to design educational materials that better serve the needs of low-income consumers.