In the District of Columbia, our agency, the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) has partnered with the local Bank On DC http://www.bankondc.org/ to assist residents with becoming part of the financial mainstream by opening banks and credit unions to do their banking. For America Saves Week, Feb. 19 to 26, DISB and the Bank On DC project manager will issue a call to action for about 1,000 unbanked residents to become banked. We will use the various EITC sites, which cater to moderate- to low-income residents and have a presence to encourage the opening of banks, host a seminar or two and use the opportunity to be available.
DISB has recently joined up with a representative at the Transitional Housing Corporation to begin a series of financial literacy classes, the most basic being how to save and opening a bank account. We still haven’t defined how we’ll be doing these as yet but we may use a theme month or week like America Saves or National Consumer Protection Week, March 4 to 10 or Financial Literacy Month in April to bring more attention to opening accounts, saving, becoming banked and increasing wealth not debt; thereby assisting some of these residents with life changes that will prove to be intergenerational.
If you can get a media partner, that will be helpful in bringing attention to getting more of your residents on board with opening bank accounts; find someone who speaks their language so they can see the significance of opening mainstream accounts versus spending so much extra money at a check cashier to get your money. That’s an eye opener, and there are studies out there about how much money is spent at a check cashier versus a bank. Check this release from DC that stated folks spent $800 per year in check cashing fees. That’s money out the pocket.