OPINION: Russell Simmons: "Banks Are Bullying The Poor"

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russell-simmons

From the Huffington Post:

I’m a late learner. Although I have heard about banks robbing the poor for a long time, it’s only recently that I have seen it first hand and have been forced to take a close look into the tragic reality that is unfolding during the most difficult economic time we have seen in years. My research on what is going on has saddened and outraged me. I realize that many banks have no interest whatsoever in addressing under-served communities. I was pained to learn that some only want to rip off the poor, while treating them unequally. No wonder under-served communities remain so distrustful of banks, and choose alternatives to traditional banking!

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What’s clear to me now is that banks are still increasing the cost to the powerless (poor) while they offer everyone else money to open accounts. I’m watching banks hold back features that they and I both know will help people save money and improve their lives. They trick customers into doing things that are not good for them through lack of transparency, and surprise them with new fees when they can least afford it. I’m learning an important lesson about ethics — or lack of ethics — in this industry. In fact, I’m fighting with a bank right now that doesn’t know what kind of ass whipping they are going to get when I expose them for the abusive practices and exuberant fees they are charging the poor. They are trying to double their already outrageously high fees in exchange for providing absolutely nothing to customers. All I want to do is to get the poor a better deal, with more reasonable fees with better services. This bank is intentionally trying to destroy my industry, which is building a platform for under-served communities. And for this, they should be ashamed of themselves.

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