Wells Fargo currently charges up to a whopping $7.50 for a non-customer to cash a check drawn upon their bank, calling it a "check-cashing service". While many other institutions (such as Walmart and Payday Loan Companies) charge check cashing services, there is a crucial difference between them.
A check cashing service will typically cash checks drawn on any bank - anywhere in the world. Wells Fargo will only cash checks drawn upon their bank. But why do check cashing companies charge fees in the first place?
Other than the obvious, the single biggest reason many companies charge fees to cash a check is because at the time they accept it they have no way of knowing for certain that the check is good. It could be drawn upon a closed account, or rejected by the bank for insufficient funds. Thus the fees charged are designed to cover the expenses incurred by check cashing companies providing this service to their customers.
If you walk into a Wells Fargo and ask to cash a check drawn on a Wells Fargo customer's account, the teller can immediately check and verify the account is open, in good standing, with sufficient funds available to cover the check. At that point, there is absolutely no risk to the bank - meaning the massive fees charged are nearly total profit for the bank. This has been going on for years as a method of browbeating poor and disenfranchised non-customers into opening a Wells Fargo account - and becoming exposed to the numerous fees that often go along with that, particularly for those living paycheck to paycheck.
In 2001, the State of Texas recognized this obvious pattern of abuse, and passed a law requiring banks to cash checks drawn from one of their customer's accounts at "par value" (without charging any fees). Numerous banks, including Wells Fargo, banded together and filed suit in Federal Court. The banks argued that since they were "nationally-chartered" they did not have to comply with state law.
With the help of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), large national banks such as Wells Fargo have been able to avoid state consumer protection laws like this 2001 Texas law by asserting that state laws are preempted and not applicable to "nationally-chartered banks". In fact, the OCC filed a brief in support of the banks' preemption claims in the Texas "par value" case. Without the help of a consumer oriented federal regulator, "consumers have been left at the mercy of an increasingly consolidated, costly, and sometimes abusive industry," comments advocate Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Even more egregious, for the check values written to the everyday worker of the world, the fees charged by Wells Fargo are even higher than the supposedly "predatory" fees of many payday loan companies.
This type of behavior from massively wealthy, trillion-dollar companies like Wells Fargo needs to stop. We need to send them a message that we won't stand for this type of abusive fee being charged to non-customers. While it may seem to many that the days of the check are well behind us, many Americans cannot afford the massive set of fees that go along with maintaining a bank account, and shouldn't be forced to pay high check-cashing fees for no reason other than increasing the wealth of a company already worth well over a thousand-billion dollars.
Please sign this petition today, and send a message to massive banks like Wells Fargo that we won't accept their snubbing of the poor and disenfranchised by continuing to charge (all profit) check cashing fees to those least able to afford them.