April 15, 2021
The Gateway For Payroll Data
The Real Story on Bank Branch Closures

Ensuring that everyone in the country has access to financial services remains a top priority for the banking industry. A recent NPR story highlighted the number of bank branch closures in 2020, and raised the ominous specter of bank deserts popping up across the country, especially in lower-income, rural and at-risk communities. A closer look at the data, however, paints a much different picture of Americans’ access to banking services.

According to the FDIC, there are more than 85,000 bank branches in the country today. Last year, S&P reports that roughly 3,400 branches closed, and more than 1000 new branches opened. There are many reasons for branch closures including industry consolidation, lack of demand and (perhaps most significantly) the growing use of mobile and online banking which has only increased during the pandemic.

The key questions the NPR story failed to ask are where are the closures taking place and do people in those communities still have access to banking services? A closer look at the data would have revealed that most branch closures in the U.S. have occurred in upper- and middle-income neighborhoods and saturated urban markets. In addition, while branches remain important to many Americans, focusing solely on physical proximity to a branch undervalues the growing adoption of popular digital channels by Americans of all backgrounds. Had NPR reached out to ABA for this story, we could have shared the data that highlight this reality.

Paving the Payments Future
FDIC Zeroes In On The Unbanked With Its GetBanked Checking Account Initiative

For millions of Americans, getting access to and maintaining a bank account is extremely difficult. Some may live in a banking desert—which is an area without adequate financial institutions. Others may believe they are unable to afford fees that come with traditional banking services.

Because of these and other circumstances, an estimated 7.1 million households were unbanked in 2019, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)’s How America Banks. The FDIC defined unbanked households as “households in which no one has a checking or savings account at a bank or credit union.” In its report, the FDIC predicted, early in the pandemic, that the number of unbanked households could be expected to rise, given the financial disruption and record levels of unemployment.

As the FDIC reports, the average percentage of unbanked households is significantly higher for some populations: 13.8% of Black households, and 12.2% of Hispanic households, are unbanked, compared to 2.5% of white households. And rates are disproportionately higher among low-income households.

Tax Tips:

  • People should check Get My Payment for status of third EIP and watch their mail 

CFPB Proposes Delay of Effective Date for Recent Debt Collection Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today proposed extending the effective date of two recent debt collection rules to give affected parties more time to comply due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The CFPB issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to delay by 60 days the effective date of two final rules issued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The debt collection rules, issued in late 2020, are scheduled to take effect on November 30, 2021. The CFPB is proposing to extend the effective date of both rules to January 29, 2022. The proposed delay would allow stakeholders affected by the pandemic additional time to review and implement the rules.

The first debt collection rule, issued in October 2020, focuses on the use of communications related to debt collection, and clarifies prohibitions on harassment and abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices by debt collectors when collecting consumer debt.

Biden consumer watchdog seeks delay of Trump-era debt collection rules

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing a 60-day delay to two debt-collection rules set to take effect in November.
  • The delay will give firms more time to review and implement the rules in light of the Covid pandemic, according to the CFPB. They were issued last year by the Trump administration.
  • Critics have said some aspects may be harmful to consumers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed a delay Wednesday to two debt-collection rules issued in the waning days of the Trump administration.

Those rules broadly addressed how debt collectors may communicate with and make disclosures to consumers.

Baylor Consumerism Expert Shares Five Tips to Make the Most of Your Stimulus Check

If emergency savings is low, begin there, professor says

WACO, Texas (April 13, 2021) — With President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, citizens nationwide received a second round of stimulus checks in the form of $1,400 per person and an additional $1,400 per dependent.

The Rescue Plan also brought increased child tax credits and unemployment benefits.

James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in the Hankamer School of Business, is an internationally recognized expert on consumerism and the author of “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can't Buy.” He said the latest round of stimulus funds offer consumers bright opportunities, but he also cautioned against pitfalls in uncertain times.

Roberts said that people should first consider building up their emergency savings funds – a step, he said, more Americans seem to be taking during this time of pandemic and economic fluctuation .

Student loan forgiveness: New Education Department data highlights benefits of cancellation

New Education Department (ED) data reveals how student loan borrowers would benefit from various levels of debt forgiveness, providing more material for Democratic lawmakers urging President Biden to cancel student debt and setting the stage for a Senate student debt hearing on Tuesday.

The previously unpublished ED analysis, obtained by Yahoo Finance, found that $50,000 in forgiveness would erase the entire debt burden for 36 million (84%) of the roughly 43 million borrowers holding federally-backed debt while $10,000 in forgiveness would wipe out the debt for 15 million of those borrowers (35%).

Pawn shops offer new and pre-owned items popular during pandemic

Television shows like “Pawn Stars” have helped change people’s views of pawn shops from seedy places with shady characters to modern stores with nicely displayed merchandise and a friendly staff.

Pawn shops buy and sell everything from silver and gold coins/bullions and new or pre-owned jewelry to electronics (computers, iPads, laptops, gaming systems and televisions), sneakers, handbags, cameras, musical instruments, used tools and exercise equipment — all in good or gently used condition.

People over 18 can also sell or pawn items and receive a loan “based on the value of the collateral,” according to

“I’ve met people who don’t have a dime in their pocket and I’ve met millionaires,” said Harry Chiappone, co-owner of C & S Pawn at 205 Main St. in Norwich. “There’s no demographic.”

Application period opens for FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral assistance program

Assistance will be limited to $9,000 per funeral

Families struggling to pay for coronavirus-related funeral expenses can officially apply for financial help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Applications for the agency's COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program opened April 12 to help "ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus," according to FEMA.

As part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is able to provide assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," the website reads.

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