Is Chase Bank Chasing Away All Its Customers?by Attorney Carlos Gamino on 08/29/14
We always find it interesting when businesses exercise their right to do business with whomever they please. Here’s an interview with Wisconsin lawyer Carlos Gamiño about Chase Bank closing accounts based on their owners’ occupations.
Why is Chase Bank catching all this heat, so to speak?
Carlos Gamiño: In May, Chase Bank sent out letters to actors and actresses in the adult film industry saying that their accounts would be closed. Why? Because of the field they’re in. In June, they sent out another spate of letters – this time to gun dealers.
Can they do that?
Carlos Gamiño: Of course they can do that. It’s their business.
Isn’t that discrimination?
Carlos Gamiño: You and I may consider it a form of discrimination, but according to the law, it isn’t. Legally, nobody is allowed to discriminate on the basis of:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
Working in the pornography business or selling guns doesn’t fit under any of those categories, so it’s perfectly legal for Chase Bank to close their accounts.
People are pretty angry about it, and understandably so; some of these people have banked with Chase for decades.
Is this what people are dubbing “Operation Chokepoint?”
Carlos Gamiño: Yes. The Justice Department has been moving forward with this initiative since 2013, and what it does is essentially cuts off ways for legitimate businesses to make financial transactions. If they can’t make money because the banks won’t deal with them, they won’t survive.
Chase Bank isn’t the only one doing this. Many are. They’re cancelling accounts of people they determine to be “reputation risks” – and that includes firearms dealers, online gambling, escort services and even payday loans.
Usually money talks, and banks listen. In this case, that doesn’t seem to matter at all. Don’t forget, though, you have a choice about where you keep your money, too. If you’re not happy with your bank, another one will be waiting with open arms.