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Money 101

March 04, 2009

Re "Reaching L.A.'s 'unbanked,' " Opinion, Feb. 25

Many residents in poor neighborhoods have learned the hard way that opening a bank account is very expensive -- often more so than relying on the neighborhood check-cashing store.

I request copies of six months of bank statements to qualify a customer for a payday loan at one of my stores. As I review these statements, I see many nonsufficient funds fees, at $24 to $35 apiece. If a customer deposits a check and writes another check that is debited that same day, he is overdrawn, because the bank does not credit the deposit until the next day. That fee may result in his next check and the one after it also being charged. A downward spiral has begun.

As Manuel Pastor suggests, until banks provide truly inexpensive checking accounts and teach customers how to use them, they cannot assist poor neighborhoods. People use our services because they always know how much cash is available to them.

Dorothy Roberts

Los Angeles

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