Aug 1 New York's attorney general is
investigating six of the top U.S. banks over reports that they
are unfairly using databases to disqualify people seeking to
open checking or savings accounts, the New York Times reported
on Thursday, citing people briefed on the matter.
Bank of America Corp, Citibank Inc and
JPMorgan Chase & Co are among the banks that received
letters from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, according
to the newspaper. The banks have until Tuesday to schedule a
meeting and discuss the matter with the agency.
Schneiderman's office did not immediately respond to a
request by Reuters for comment. Citigroup declined comment,
while JPMorgan and Bank of America were not immediately
reachable. The newspaper did not identify the other three banks.
An increasing number of banks and credit unions are running
stringent checks to guard themselves against risky customers and
fraud. However, the databases on which these banks rely are
disproportionately affecting lower-income Americans, according
consumer advocates and state authorities, the newspaper said.
Negative reports in the databases have eliminated over a
million lower-income Americans from the financial system and
forced them towards using costly operations to pay bills or cash
a check, the New York Times said, citing interviews with
financial counselors, consumer lawyers and over two dozen
low-income people in California, Illinois, Florida, New York and
The newspaper added that the prosecutor is mainly seeking
information on the banks' use of databases to make sure
consumers are not improperly denied or restricted banking
The databases could especially harm African-Americans,
Latinos and other minority groups, the paper cited
Schneiderman's office as saying.