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Chase to widen access to financial services under AG agreement

JPMorgan Chase Bank, under an agreement with state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, will modify its policies, to allow low-income people greater access to its financial services.

Chase will change its procedures for screening customers who apply for checking accounts, to permit more consumers to open accounts, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Consumers who already use a Chase prepaid debit card called a Liquid Card – an option for consumers who do not qualify for a checking account – will now be able to use that card to pay bills online or have Chase mail checks for them at no additional charge. Chase pledged to make the changes to the Liquid Card by the fourth quarter, according to Schneiderman’s office.

“These new actions on the part of Chase Bank will help expand access to low-cost financial services for consumers across the state,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Schneiderman hinted at similar changes at other lenders: “I look forward to working with additional banks to help consumers avoid financial services laden with fees and other penalties.”

Schneiderman’s office has previously reached agreements with Citbank, Capital One and Santander to change their use of a consumer-reporting agency that screens people who want to open checking or savings accounts. He has focused on improving access for consumers who are “unbanked,” or don’t have accounts, and “underbanked,” meaning they have an account but also rely on high-cost alternative services.

JPMorgan Chase has a deposit share of about 0.17 percent in the Buffalo Niagara region, according to the most recent data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That ranked No. 14 among 17 institutions.