Reporting Serene Branson
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Activists behind “Bank Transfer Day” are hoping tens of thousands of people on Saturday will voluntarily switch their money to not-for-profit credit unions.
The movement was organized by former Bank of America customer Kristen Christian, who says she became frustrated when the bank tried to charge her a $5 debit card fee.
“It really did make me sick and instead of investing it back into the community to stimulate our economy, they’re choosing to distribute that wealth among a select few shareholders,” Christian said.
Although customer backlash stopped the fee, the Silver Lake artist says it was too little too late. She shared her idea of “Bank Transfer Day” with 500 Facebook friends.
“I put together some very basic info of the steps people would need to take,” she said.
Four weeks later, Christian has 7,300 supporters pledging to close accounts with big banks and take business to not-for-profit credit unions by this weekend.
“I was with Bank of America and the fees were tremendous,” said Nina Washington, a credit union customer.
Through social media, the movement has gained steam and struck a cord with customers apparently fed up with fees and frustrated by lack of loan funds from banks who received bailout money.
Phillip Denlea of Burbank’s Lockheed Federal Credit Union says business is up at least 50 percent from this time last year.
“Certainly a lot more volume… people coming from commercial banks, frankly because maybe they are fed up with some of the commercial fees and wanting to take advantage of what the credit union offers,” Denlea said.
Credit unions are not-for-profits and essentially work for the customers, not shareholders. But Bank of America has said they listened to customers concerns by cancelling the hike. The outcry prompted other banks to cancel tests of their own.
We tried to reach BofA for comment, but have not yet received a reply.