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Maine’s Bureau of Financial Institutions and “Bank on ME” Working Group Announces Initiative to Help the State’s Unbanked Population
December 28, 2010
AUGUSTA, MAINE — Bureau of Financial Institutions Superintendent Lloyd P. LaFountain III announced on Monday that his agency, in collaboration with a “Bank on ME” working group established by the Legislature, have launched a new initiative designed to help the unbanked save and protect their money through low or no cost accounts at Maine banks and credit unions. In announcing the steps being taken, Superintendent LaFountain explained the meaning of ‘unbanked’ and outlined why these individuals need and deserve extra attention.
“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.” The Bureau of Financial Institutions, the Governor and the Maine Legislature worked together this year to develop a plan of action to help the unbanked.”
LaFountain highlighted three actions being finalized to assist people who are unfamiliar with the safety and benefits of accounts at credit unions and banks:
Save and Protect Your Money Brochure: A new tri-fold publication, which will also be available online, has been developed by the Bureau of Financial Institutions and the “Bank on ME” working group. 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 will be available January 1st by calling the Bureau of Financial Institutions toll-free in Maine at 800-965-5235 (toll free in Maine) or 207-624-8570. It will also be distributed to banks, credit unions and a number of non-profit agencies, including Community Action Programs and organizations with a focus on services for immigrants. Plans are underway to have the brochure translated and available in other languages.
Online Consumer Library: The Bureau of Financial Institutions 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. The library can be accessed through the ‘Consumer Tools’ menu on the Bureau’s homepage at www.maine.gov/pfr/financialinstitutions.
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 and answer questions. The specialist is also available to assist Maine people with any other issues related to banks and credit unions by calling toll-free 1-800-965-5235.
“Thanks to the efforts of many people, including legislators and representatives from financial institutions, more information and services will be available than ever before to help Maine people save and protect their money through secure accounts. This should benefit individuals throughout our State who too often rely on people and businesses that charge significant fees,” Superintendent LaFountain added.
A copy of the new “Save and Protect Your Money” brochure accompanies this press release.
Last Updated: December 29, 2010 11:57 AM
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