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US Banks Refuse to let Customers Close Accounts

 
 
 
 
 
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Arrested: Video footage shows a woman being detained outside of a Citibank branch in Manhattan after she attempts to enter with her chequebook in hand.

The banks fight back: Customers locked in and arrested after attempting to close their accounts in Occupy Wall Street protests.

Banks across America appear to be fighting the growing protest against income disparity and rising fees as the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads worldwide.

A series of videos filmed across the U.S. in New York City; Santa Cruz, California and St Louis, Missouri, show customers staging protests and mass account closures.

However, footage has emerged showing what appears to be dozens of Citibank and Bank of America customers denied requests to close their accounts, some even being arrested after alleged clashes with branch managers.

Video footage obtained by Gawker.com earlier this month shows dozens of people corralled inside of a Citibank branch in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, some signalling inside they are facing arrest.

A woman dressed in a business suit holding a checkbook attempts to enter but is stopped by officers outside who ask her if she was part of the protest.

After calmly insisting she is a customer of the bank, a plain-clothed officer detains her.

Police swarm as she appears to be taken back inside – one of 24 people arrested on charges of criminal trespassing, reports the website.

Citibank said in an official statement the group was ‘very disruptive and refused to leave after being repeatedly asked’.

A bank spokesman said one person asked to close an account and was accommodated and acknowledged that the branch was closed ‘until the protesters could be removed’.

The footage follows a video uploaded to YouTube on October 8, which shows three Occupy Santa Cruz protesters attempting to close their accounts at a local Bank of America branch.

Two of the women are shown walking into the branch and sitting down, one of them with a large placard.

A manager asks the women to leave and threatens to call police, claiming ‘you cannot be a protester and a customer at the same time’.

The women leave and vow to return without a sign the following day to close their accounts.

The scenes were reminiscent of a rally in St Louis on August 12, which saw several people lining up outside of a Bank of America branch in effort to close their accounts.

Banned: Two women were ordered out of a Bank of America branch in Santa Cruz, California after attempting to close their accounts in protest

Video footage uploaded on YouTube shows demonstrators shouting on bullhorns outside of the branch in protest, as Bank of America employees stand outside barring the group from entering.

The spectacles come weeks after both Citibank and Bank of America unveiled plans to hike fees for its services.

Earlier this month, Citibank announced changes to its mid-tier checking accounts, which offer the potential for earning interest and a few other perks.

Starting in December, Citi will charge $20 a month on these accounts, unless the customer has combined balances of $15,000 or more in checking, savings and investment accounts or loan balances.

Rally: Protesters gather in St Louis, Missouri, where company employees bar them from coming inside to close their accounts

The fee was previously waived for combined balances of $6,000 for that level of account, which offers perks such as interest-bearing checking.

Customers also pay $2 fees for using non-Citi ATMs if they don’t meet the balance requirement. Last month Citi said it will no longer give rewards points for debit card transactions.

That stemmed, in part, from changes in federal regulations that cut roughly in half the amount banks could charge retailers for processing purchases made on debit cards, a rule that’s cutting sharply into bank revenue.

Citi’s move came just a few days after Bank of America Corp said it would be charging $5 per month for using debit cards starting next year.

Other banks have also been testing such fees.

U.S. cities large and small were ‘occupied’ over the weekend by the group that calls themselves ‘the 99 per cent’: Washington, D.C., Fairbanks, Alaska, Burlington, Vermont, Rapid City, South Dakot, and Cheyenne, Wyoming were just a few.

More than 70 New York protesters were arrested Saturday, more than 40 of them in Times Square.

About 175 people were arrested in Chicago after they refused to leave a park where they were camped late Saturday, and there were about 100 arrests in Arizona – 53 in Tucson and 46 in Phoenix – after protesters refused police orders to disperse.

About two dozen people were arrested in Denver, and in Sacramento, California.

Meanwhile, an offshoot movement called Bank Transfer Day appears to be gaining momentum.

A statement on the movement’s Facebook page encourages supporters to take a stand against big banks by removing their funds on November 5th.

‘Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will always remember the 5th of November!!

‘If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions on or by this date, we will send a clear message and give the 1% a taste of the fear that we experience every day when we aren’t able to pay for our rent, food, medication, utilities, student loans, etc.,’ it reads.

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  • JanB

    As banksters can make huge profits by investing US $ they get at zero interest rate wherever the interest rate is above zero %, they’re not pleased to see the cash cows enabling their reckless casino games that crashed the global economy, dry up.

    One alternative is to transfer all money gradually (Internet banking) to a small local bank or credit union (that invests in (sustainable) local business), and to send a letter by registered post that the “too big to fail” account no longer will be used. Maybe a sympathising lawyer can make a prototype letter.

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  • John Gault

    Don’t stop at Banks, SELL EVERY SHARE YOU OWN! It’s just as important to close down the massive profits and incredible hardships that companies are inflicting on people in the name of profit.

    Can’t you see that when you invest, you are giving your money to unscrupulous directors, who hike prices of everything and create huge monopolies, so they can “make profits that their shareholders demand”. It’s YOU, the millions of people who give their hard earned money, who will use it to fuel inflation and misery.

    Kill the Stock Exchange and the mad gambling with your moeny will stop once and for all.

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  • Stop spending. Just buy what you need to eat and pay for the minimum bills to get by. Very soon if everyone was to do this the economy would collapse and be surplanted by a Utopian system where there is no debt. Think about it, does a bear think about his debts while crapping in the woods? Debt is a figment of our imagination.

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  • Scott

    …Americans are getting angry…. Quit while you’re 5 feet under. It won’t be tolerated for much longer. Denial of closing accounts to siphon fees from the reluctant, irritated people is STEALING & Enslavement. I know my first amendment rights are being scrutinized, but when everyone unites, I am going to LMAO knowing 99% of the country wants to take bats to the 1%, and it will not be to play softball….

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  • Jean-Francois Morf

    Once upon a time, my father worked for short in USA. He did not close his bank account, thinking it could be useful if he once would come back in USA. The $ +100$ he let in his account quickly transformed in negative, until he wrote he really not need any account more under such fast deteriorating conditions!

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