Federal and local governments are trying once again to persuade some of the 17 million U.S. adults who rely on check-cashing services to open their own bank accounts.
Past efforts to lure “unbanked” consumers into the financial mainstream have fallen short. Some states require state-chartered banks to offer low-cost accounts, but banks rarely promote them. A Treasury Department initiative earlier this decade offered grants to banks and community groups to sign up consumers, but few accounts were opened.
Jolita Richmond, a nursing assistant in Laurel, Md., patronizing a Kash King check-cashing store last week, said she closed her bank account earlier this year after $300 in overdraft fees piled up without her realizing it. Her income-tax refund, deposited into her account, took care of the charges but she decided it wasn’t worth the cost.