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Letter that should be made
required reading for every banker.
Following is a letter that was posted anonymously in the general forum on ChexVictims.com. It is an eloquent and well written letter that makes a very clear argument why ChexSystems is bad. As such, it should be made required reading for every banker before they should be allowed to consider using ChexSystems to deny an account. [Italics and links were added by us.]

I keep 4 banks separate accounts open and funded after being in ChexSystems hell for more than 2 years. I can think of fewer more Kafkaesque things that can happen to an American than having these unaccountable, faceless entities ruin your life, embarass you in front of your employer and friends, and cause you to feel like a degenrate, social outcast.

Some day, I wonder if somebody will ever prevail and win psychological damages for the harm that ChexSystems does.

Sites like this one [ ChexVictims.com] are littered with pleas, "Help me, please." These are not the pleas of criminals and check kiters, but honest perhaps sometimes mistaken individuals who have been wronged by what amounts to a sinister and highly profitable conspiracy on the part of the Deluxe Corporation, which profits from the misery of its victims.

To these pleas from the heart, these pleas of "Help Me!" some idiot at Deluxe's EFunds counters with a self-righteous, semi-literate rant. Meanwhile, the Fed -- pandering to minorities -- speaks of the "unbanked" as if the majority of people in any check casher's line wouldn't prefer to be at a bank if they only could.

In Florida, I have seen the people line up outside banks on Fridays to cash their paychecks. And I mean outside literally because some banks there have an outside teller window for non-customers to cash checks payable to them. These poor unfortunates aren't allowed in the banks's airconditioned lobby. And they're fingerprinted every time they cash a check, too! Of course, these are the working poor, the lower income, the welfare recipients. Too smelly and low class to be allowed in the front door. At least in South Beach.

This is the future of banking unless regulators and politicians act. BANKS ARE NOT ENTIRELY PRIVATE BUSINESSES, BUT HOLDERS OF PUBLIC LICENSES AND MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL BANKING SYSTEM. As such, they have obligations to the public. There is nothing inconsistent with good business and requiring a bank to do business fairly, openly and with all comers. Moreover, there need to be procedures in place at a bank before one can be blacklisted. There need to be official written policies, notice requirements, and the ability for a customer to offer evidence in his or her favor BEFORE being blacklisted.

Here, we have a clear instance of big corporations assuming monopolistic functions and riding roughshod over the liberties and rights of individuals. CheckSystems allows a bloc consisting of 80% of US banks to act monopolistically in concert with regard to individual depositors. It's effect is clearly restraint of trade, and should be treated as such.

At both the bank and the CheckSystems level, there need to be clear, written, published and enforced standards. If CheckSystems is, in fact, a security system to protect against bad check writers, then the procedures need to ensure that only bad check writers, and not sloppy accountants, are adversely affected. Certainly, the policies and procedures shouldn't allow actions by third parties (automatic debits that won't stop) be be used against current and former account holders. Nor should bank fees that result in overdrafts be portrayed in the same light as check kiting.

A detrimental report to ChexSystems should be the result of a considered process, done for cause and under deliberation. It is not the way a publicly regulated institution should pare down its less profitable customer roles by computer flagging absent little human intervention. Apparently, this is what CheckSystems does.. .it offers an easy, automated way for the spreadsheet boys to cull out account they dont like.

I take issue with a bank's ability to close accounts generally. But the idea that one can be entirely blacklisted from an industry is something that can only be addressed by legislators and regulators.

In today's Los Angeles Times, there is an article about how mainstream banks are running to get into the highly profitable retail check cashing business. Of course, this businesss has seen boom times since the CheckSystems blacklist became a popular way of doing banking business in the past two decades.

Now, we see that banks have a vested interest in steering you to check cashing, where they skim 2-3 percent from your gross income!

The idea of segmenting markets to maxmize profit in any paticular industry is nothing new. General Motors pioneered the idea by maintaining a menagerie of substantially similar brands, each best designed to extract the most money from the targeted demographic.

Banking is no different. At the top are those served by personal bankers, with special, queueless teller lines. The elite of the elite sit at a vice president's desk in a private banking department, where this over-titled factotem scurries off and brings you your money and documents while you nibble on the bank's complimentary cookies and sip coffee.

Down the spectrum, banks have employed the techniques of market segmentation to divide and conquer the banking consumer. Far from being a classless society, this is a world where different "banking products" are sold only to specific groups. There are all-in-one accounts for the middle classes, money market acounts for the better off, and no-frills checking for those who live paycheck to paycheck.

What's different about the ChexSystems fraud is this: it bans you entirely from the bank. You become a non-citizen, an outcast. With real repercussions in your real life, which go far beyond where to cash checks. Checks are NOT and never were the issue. Disenfranchisement from the nation's banking and payment systems are the problem.

Without a bank account, including checks and a VISA card, you can't readily:
1. check into a hotel or rent a car
2. buy an airline ticket without becoming a "security profile"
3. rent an apartment
4. buy a home
5. buy a car
6. receive a direct deposit paycheck (some companies refuse to issue paper checks)

I cannot begin to think of the kinds of different transactions for which one needs the ability to write a check. But there's the rub: these are transactions of the middle and upper middle class. So by denying you access to these necessary tools of middle class life, ChexSystems in effect degrades you to marginality, to the effective status of the working poor.

ChexSystems must be stopped because of how dangerous it has become.

To comment on this letter, please reply to this posting which was posted to the general forum on ChexVictims.com on March 16, 2000 and is titled CheckSystems: facilitating monopoly and restraining trade.



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