Nationwide campaign calls for immediate action on paycheck cashing, no-fee ATMs, and money transfers in U.S. Post Offices
Millions of consumers, underserved by traditional banks, will benefit from plan endorsed by USPS Inspector General for low-cost financial services
WASHINGTON – The Campaign for Postal Banking and dozens of national consumer, labor, and civic organizations delivered a petition today with more than 150,000 signatures to U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan.
The petition calls for immediate action to establish low-cost financial services in the nation’s 30,000 U.S. Post Offices.
“The big banks have abandoned our communities and left us to predatory payday and car title lenders. But the US Postal service has the authority to provide an affordable, high quality public alternative right now,” said Liz Ryan Murray of National People’s Action, a national network of grassroots organizations representing low-income communities and communities of color. “It’s time for the Postmaster General to act — our families can’t wait.”
Right now, nearly 28 percent of U.S. households are underserved by traditional banks and are forced to turn to payday lenders, check cashers, and other financial predators, spending on average 10 percent of their income on fees and services. These services are part of an industry that rakes in $103 billion a year at the expense of the most financially vulnerable.
“Tens of millions of seniors rely on the U.S. Postal Service as one of the most trusted institutions in America,” said Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works. “It’s the perfect fit to offer no-fee ATMs and electronic funds transfer.”
“I am forced to borrow from payday lenders because my Social Security income is too meager to cover my needs,” said Bonnie, a senior citizen. “The smallest problem with my old car or any other thing in my life forces me to use lender money. The fees are horrendous!” Bonnie’s surname is being withheld to protect her privacy.
“The Postal Service has the legal authority, right now, to offer payroll check-cashing, access to no-fee ATMs, and electronic money transfers – and consumers want those services,” said Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union. “Big banks are turning their backs on millions of families. In fact, one in four U.S. households lives at least partially outside the financial mainstream. Without bank accounts they fall prey to predatory lenders.”
USPS Inspector General David Williams has issued two white papers on postal banking that detail how the USPS could expand the products it already offers under its existing legal authority. “Offering expanded financial services would help the Postal Service improve the lives of millions of Americans as it fulfills its universal service obligation,” according to a May 15 report from the Inspector General.
“The USPS, through what some term ‘postal banking,’ can step in to fulfill its mission of providing universal service while strengthening the public Postal Service and protecting good jobs that our communities need,” added Dimondstein. “Members of our union look forward to working with Postmaster General Megan Brennan to transform the USPS into a 21st century hub for communications, finance, and e-commerce.”
From 1911 to 1967, the U.S. Post Office offered savings deposit accounts to consumers, and it continues to offer domestic and international money orders, as well as international wire transfers. The U.S. Postal Service ranks as the most trusted federal agency, with a favorable rating given by 84 percent of those polled.
“The United States has two separate banking systems today – one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else,” said Prof. Mehrsa Baradaran, author of How the Other Half Banks.
“The best way to level the playing field for credit in the United States is postal banking,” said Baradaran, who teaches contracts and banking law at the University of Georgia Law School. “A public option in banking would balance the scales of government support for the banking industry and could potentially drive out the usurious fringe-lending sector, which profits from American’s financial woes.”
The Campaign for Postal Banking is a coalition of consumer, worker, financial reform, economic justice, community, civic, and faith-based organizations building a campaign-based movement to inform and mobilize the public to call on the United States Postal Service to take the necessary steps to restore and expand postal banking at its branches across the country.
Participating Organizations: A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service, Alliance for Retired Americans, Americans for Financial Reform, American Federation of Government Employees, American Postal Workers Union, Brave New Films, Campaign for America’s Future, Campaign for Postal Banking, Center for Effective Government, Center for Study of Responsive Law, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Commonomics USA, Communications Workers of America, Consumer Action, Daily Kos, Deluge, Democracy for America, Essential Information, Farm Aid, Hightower Lowdown, Jobs with Justice, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National People’s Action, People for the American Way, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, United for a Fair Economy and USAction
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