Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are We Really Closing Our Accounts?

by Dick Mac

Last night I had a bit of a rant on Facebook about the movement to close our accounts with big banks and to move our money into small, local banks.

I think this is a splendid idea. I have often advocated small banks over big banks, Personally, I use Amalgamated Bank - America's Labor Bank. They don't have a lot of branches and they do not have fancy on-line banking like the big boys, but they are politically more palatable to me.

A couple weeks ago, twenty-five people entered a Citibank in Greenwich Village, New York City, to close their accounts and they were arrested. It's not clear what transpired inside the bank, but apparently none of these people succeeded at closing their accounts. Their cause did garner a great deal of publicity, which is one measure of success; but, their money is still in Citibank.

I think the closure of the accounts is more important than publicity.

For some, this will be difficult. If you are in the middle of buying a car or a home, you can't really start moving your money around all-at-once -- you have to wait until the deal is done.

If you are just busy, but have an account to close -- you have to strategize.

If you already have an account in your local bank - a savings account or a CD, as well as a checking account in the big bank, creating a new checking account at the small bank is easy and transfer of the funds will take place with nominal effort on your part.

If, however, you only have the one checking account with a big bank, you need to consider how to get this done.

Do this some month right after you've paid your bills and you have a couple/few weeks without immediate payments due.

First step is to open an account with your local bank (Amalgamated). Even a local bank probably has an online process for opening an account. If the bank offers free checking, open a checking account. If not, open a savings account. You now have a relationship with the bank.

While that account is new, and you are awaiting the new checks, move some of your money from the big bank (Citi) into it.

Now, make a list of all the online or automatic payments that come out of your Citi account.

Move enough money into the Amalgamated account to cover those payments and spend an evening changing the online accounts to the new bank.

If you have direct deposit, arrange for that deposit to change to Amalgamated.

Over the next month, move the money from Citi to Amalgamated, being careful to leave a little money in the Citi account to cover any pending charges.

At the end of that month, go into your Citi branch and close the account.


I kinow . . . it's a pain in the butt; BUT, if you want to do this and think you can't, then think it through and make it happen.

If all you want to do is get on youtube.com and get arrested, then march into your local Citi branch with a sign and start yelling. Be sure to bring a cameraman with you. And really, nobody gives a flying-fuck if you get arrested because you will have failed at actually closing your account - which is the point.

The press is starting to cover the story:

The banks fight back: Customers locked in and arrested after attempting to close their accounts in Occupy Wall Street protests at the Daily Mail

Occupy Providence to close BofA accounts at the Boston Herald

Occupy protesters close bank accounts at the Brown University Daily Herald

Wall Street Protest Rallies at JPMorgan Branch to Close Accounts at San Francisco Chronicle

'Occupy' Staunton Protestors Close Bank of America Accounts at WHSV-TV

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