FDIC wants more Americans to open bank accounts

7 million people in America are “unbanked.” How the FDIC and banks across the country are working to change it.
Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 9:13 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - How did you receive your most recent stimulus check? Millions of Americans opened their mobile banking app or logged online to see an automatic deposit come through.

But for more than 7 million Americans without bank accounts, it wasn’t so easy.

“A bank account really gives you the convenience of getting that money quickly,” said Leonard Chanin, the Deputy to the Chairman for Consumer Protection & Innovation at the FDIC.

That’s why the FDIC launched the #GETBANKED campaign: to raise awareness about the benefits of bank account ownership.

Radio and TV ads are running in areas with large minority populations, who are statistically less likely to have accounts. The FDIC is working with banks that offer options for first-time or hesitant customers.

“Sometimes people have had bad experiences with banks,” Chanin said.

According to the FDIC, the most common reasons a person doesn’t have a bank account are lack of trust, or not having the money to open a checking account.

That’s something Alfonso Guzman, the mid-Atlantic regional director of JP Morgan Chase has noticed and is working locally to change.

“It really comes back to meeting people where they are,” Guzman said.

He recommends checking your local FDIC insured institution. Many banks provide options like low monthly fees, no minimum balance and no overdraft charges. They also offer information and can help you with budgeting and saving to ease any future financial worries.

“We have tools and resources at all levels, and we really seek to understand what they’re trying to achieve, what they’re trying to accomplish,” Guzman said. “And it can be something as fundamental as their first account.”

Those looking to get started now can also open new accounts online.

Photojournalist/Editor Tyler Smith contributed to this report.

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