Bureau of Financial Institutions encourages the “unbanked”

Advantages of Free and Low-Cost Accounts for the ‘Unbanked’at Maine Banks and Credit Unions

GARDINER – Bureau of Financial Institutions Superintendent Lloyd P. LaFountain III announced this week that his agency is encouraging the ‘unbanked’ to protect their money in the New Year by looking into the advantages of low or no-cost accounts at Maine banks and credit unions.  This is the second annual effort by the Bureau to highlight the benefits of low and no-cost accounts for those unfamiliar with saving and checking accounts.  The Bureau launched this initiative in 2010, in collaboration with a working group established by the Maine Legislature.

“The unbanked are individuals without an account at a credit union or bank, who may be unaware of the security and benefits that come from such accounts,” LaFountain commented. “Many people pay expensive charges for check cashing and other services from storefront operations.  While those businesses serve a purpose, the unbanked can often save a substantial amount of money each year through more traditional services offered at Maine banks and credit unions.”  

The Bureau of Financial Institutions and members of the Legislature worked together in 2010 to develop a plan of action to help the unbanked.  LaFountain outlined three actions to assist people who are unfamiliar with the safety and benefits of accounts at financial institutions:

Save and Protect Your Money Brochure:  A tri-fold publication is available in paper copy or online.  It encourages people to learn why a low or no-cost account could help them to save and safeguard their money.  The brochure explains what’s needed to open an account; defines “over-draft” and other important terms; and provides a check-list of questions to be asked by someone interested in opening an account to ensure that it will provide needed protections and services.  The brochure is available by calling the Bureau of Financial Institutions toll-free in Maine at 1-800-965-5235 or 207-624-8570.

Online Consumer Library:  The Bureau has developed an extensive online consumer library with resources for individuals who have never dealt with a financial institution, as well as for anyone seeking information about various topics, including foreclosure, credit cards, borrowing, credit reports and financial scams. 

Personal Assistance:  The Bureau has a Consumer Outreach Specialist available during business hours of 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, to personally assist anyone who has questions about opening a low or no-cost account.  The Specialist can walk interested consumers through the process of opening an account.  The specialist is also available to assist people with other issues related to banks and credit unions by calling toll-free 1-800-965-5235.

The Bureau of Financial Institutions is part of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through the regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can learn more about the Department online at http://www.maine.gov/pfr.


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