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Dealing with bank fees during a pandemic

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PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (KION) For Pacific Grove resident Luis Alvarez, he was hoping to get every cent of his stimulus money. But that wasn't necessarily the case. After receiving his unemployment benefits on a government-issued Bank of America card, he went to his bank to get those funds transferred to his bank account through 1st Capital Bank.

"I went to my bank to use the debit card to draw out the money," says Alvarez. He claims after doing so, he was alerted that there would be a $3 fee to withdraw his money. Alvarez says he then talked to management at the bank's branch.

"I said, I would like my three dollars back because you guys have done nothing to earn that $3," he told KION in a ZOOM interview.

After conversations with management at the bank, Alvarez says he was told 'it was his problem' and there was nothing they could do. But Alvarez tells KION he isn't concerned about the amount of money he's lost. He says concerned about the amount of money banks are making off other people's hardships during a pandemic.

"It's not just the three bucks ... it's the fact that you're doing it to every one of us," says Alvarez.

KION reached out to 1st Capital Bank about if this fee is happening to people who are getting their stimulus and/or unemployment funds on government-issued cards that are unaffiliated with 1st Capital Bank, and if so, why?

Here is their response:

Without specifics, I cannot confirm or refute that the individual you spoke with was charged a fee to transfer monies from another location to their 1st Capital Bank account. It is very possible that the fee in question was imposed by a party other than 1st Capital.

In addressing your question in general terms, most if not all financial institutions charge fees for the various financial services they provide. The level and frequency of fees charged correspond in large part to the expenses incurred both internally (primarily employee compensation) and from outside vendors, including telecommunications and information technology providers, to provide access to the banking system.

1st Capital Bank’s fee structure is among the lowest, with monthly checking account fees averaging 0.0023% of average checking account balances. We offer the lifeline checking product, with a minimum balance of $100.00 to avoid monthly service charges. These accounts are provided below cost.

We are committed to the financial wellbeing of the communities along California’s Central Coast. Our participation in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program is evidence of our strong commitment to the community. Since the inception of the program, our lending personnel have been working twelve to fifteen hours per day, seven days a week, and these efforts have resulted in financial assistance totaling over $110 Million to over 370 businesses in our communities thereby allowing them to sustain their employees livelihoods.

We are also committed to the financial wellbeing of our own employees. In response to the economic challenges faced by many of our staff as a result of the pandemic, we paid a $1,000 bonus to each of our hourly employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a demanding environment for all of us, and we have focused our efforts on those actions that create the greatest benefits in our communities as noted above. Nevertheless, if you or the customer in question can provide us with specific details, we will look into our schedule of fees and strongly consider providing waivers during this time of crisis.

Samuel Jimenez
Chief Executive Officer
1st Capital Bank

1st Capital Bank has not responded to our question regarding whether the bonus' for their employees came from those transaction fees during the pandemic.

Central Coast / Message Max / Money / Monterey County / Top Stories
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Max Tarlton

Max Tarlton is a morning anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.

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