Thursday, July 16, 2009

The First Bank of Fat Tony or Grifters Savings and Loan

Times are tough for most of the world. Folks are losing jobs. Paychecks don't seem to come along often enough. Options are running short.

In fact, many people are resorting to making ends meet with payday loans on the high end and the black market on the low end. Whatever staves off foreclosure, people are willing to deal with any level of lending, regulated or not.

That is, unless you bank with Fifth Third. Yes, the little bank with the funny name has made the leap into a new service sure to be a boon courtesy to its customers. It's simple really, and not a new idea at all: it's loan-sharking.

Have a gander.
According to the disclosure, Fifth Third will give you a loan for 35 days for a mere cut of 10%. Congratulations, not only are you scraping to pay your bills, you now earn only 90% of what you should get paid.

Fifth Third will no doubt hype the benevolent hand they're reaching out to the downtrodden, and draw a comparison to how much fee income they're not collecting when they offer such a service. Yet, what really catches my ire is the fact that the same people who they're willing to let mortgage their paycheck would be drummed out of any manager's office were they to seek a reasonable, everyday car loan or mortgage refinance.

Banks are all about fee income these days. They'll slash the grace period on your credit card, strengthen the default limits of the same, charge you a few bucks more for a foreign ATM, etc. Then they'll sell an out-and-out swindle like this Early Access and feed us a line about helping a guy when he's down.

It's about another line all together. That bottom line ain't so rosy when you're trading at $7.52 a share. Time to rebuild on the backs of poor people.

Of course, there's no possible way this could go wrong. They're limiting advances to $500. They're charging a lower fee than most payday loan outlets that can charge rates equivalent to 400% APR (and cheaper than the cash advance fee on their own credit cards). They're providing a service that most folks would jump at when the well is dry.

Who cares?

This is merely a ploy for the bank to take a cut of deposits and lend money to the otherwise undesirable. Not to mention their setting themselves up to generate further fee income. It's unsecured credit preying on the desperate, a band-aid on a gushing wound. It's loan-sharking through the frickin' ATM!

Congratulations, Fifth Third. You're a damn bookie, a hustler, a cheat, a con. And you're making money off of it.

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