On Tuesday, October 26th, members of the Idaho Community Action Network gathered outside of the Wells Fargo bank in Pocatello, Idaho to demand changes to the bank’s excessive overdraft system. Many Idahoans have experienced the pains of the economic recession and are in a state of discontent with Wells Fargo’s failure to address the financial crisis. “Due to the fees, my family and I had to let go of some things from the grocery store because we live paycheck-to-paycheck,” said Debra Maltos, a member of the organization.
“Our American public bailed them (big banks) out when they were in a financial crisis,” said Diana Corcorran. “When are they going to help bail out the families that helped bail them out?” Following the action outside the bank, the ICAN members went inside the bank to meet with the branch manager. At the meeting, the manager eluded the members’ questions by responding that she did not have any decision-making power over Wells Fargo’s policies.
However, the ICAN members continued to make their demands and added that Wells Fargo also needs to make changes to their payday lending practices. A report on payday creditors shows that Wells Fargo “finances more payday lenders than any other big bank.” (( http://showdowninamerica.org/big-banks-dirty-secrets)) Wells Fargo backs EZCorp, Check Into Cash, and Advance America, all of which operate throughout Idaho.
“Instead of helping our communities,” said another member who wished to remain anonymous, “payday lending companies keep taking advantage of our families.”
“When we need a loan, we go to a payday loan company,” the person explained. “They charge $20 per every hundred that we borrow. When it was time to pay the company bank, I didn’t have enough money because of bank overdraft fees. Then the next day to pay the loan came, and I had to get another check loan to be able to make a payment.”
ICAN members participated in the action to illustrate how a systematic problem caused by the banking industry affects the daily lives of individuals such as Debra and Diana. They showed how overdraft policies and the payday lending companies are intricately intertwined, and how this relationship creates a vicious cycle where the poorest sector of our society continues to get poorer, while the rich continue to get richer.