NEW YORK (11/7/14)--In a letter to the editor that appeared in the Oct. 30 edition of The New York Times, New York City Department of Consumer of Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin wrote that credit unions are among the financial services providers that offer affordable accounts to underbanked consumers.
"Governments, credit unions and nonprofits are doing the hard work of reforming the system and creating safe and affordable accounts," Menin wrote.
Menin's letter was in response to "Are Banks Too Expensive?" an editorial written by Lisa Servon, professor of urban policy and management at the New School.
Servon cited a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. report that showed 25 million Americans were unbanked in 2013. Another 68 million are underbanked--that is they have bank accounts but also rely on alternative financial services such as check cashing services and payday lenders.
In her letter, Menin cited a 2014 U.S. Postal Service study that indicated the average underbanked family spends more than $2,400 a year on alternative financial services.
New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs partners with credit unions and banks to offer NYC SafeStart, a free or low-cost account with modest deposit minimums that is available to people with a negative banking history, Menin wrote.
Credit unions participating in NYC SafeStart include: