In a report in American Banker this week, federal regulators are investigating Bank of America’s handling of government benefits under a California program. They are scrutinizing BoA’s conduct as exclusive provider of prepaid debit cards to consumers receiving unemployment, disability, and COVID-19 relief benefits.
We saw a glimmer of hope in late 2020 when the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) requested comments on “Fair Access to Banking.” The NPA filed a detailed account of pawnbrokers’ difficulties in obtaining and retaining banking services that has existed for years and continues to this day. However, a change in the Administration meant a change in leadership at the OCC, and we heard nothing further.
Both the OCC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) declined to comment on the report in the American Banker. However, this strongly suggests that one or both are scrutinizing BoA’s conduct, as Federal agencies do not comment on pending or ongoing investigations.
As we all know, this is not just a California problem. From coast-to-coast pawnbrokers are seeing benefit debit cards branded by major national banks declined when customers try to purchase items.
One NPA member in North Carolina called the Charlotte headquarters of Bank of America and surprisingly …