AMBER LOVE 28-APRIL-2014 Last week, word began to spread that Chase bank (of JP Morgan Chase) was sending letters to certain customers that their accounts would be closed and they wouldn’t be able to be Chase customers any longer. Those customers fall into one category that’s considered “risky” for business: adult entertainment workers.
Porn stars who use Chase were sent letters instructing them to cancel all transactions and to remove all recurring payments that would be coming from their Chase accounts. This is not the first time Chase determined that a company involved in sexuality/sex work/sex merchandise could potentially ruin their reputation. According to RawStory, Chase shut down the Lovability account in a similar fashion as it’s doing to individuals in porn. Lovability is a company that manufactures the female condom. Chase has refused mortgages and loans to people in the industry as well.
Bank of America also refuses service to porn workers who have tried to set up new accounts. City National did the same to award-winning porn star CHANEL PRESTON. You may recall my own personal problems getting shut down by PayPal (an eBay company) so not only am I prohibited from having a tip jar, using PayPal as a payment processor for merchandise of ANY kind not just adult but my costumes as well, I also can’t send money through them either which is how my writing workshops and some conventions accept payment. Other professionals have been interviewed about this issue including actress Teagan Presley, Marc Greenberg of MRG Entertainment, and attorney Michael Fattorosi.
Sometimes the banks say it’s about their standards or reputations but other times they are blaming the US Department of Justice. Here’s what I found out: It’s called OPERATION CHOKE POINT (insert deep throat jokes here). Not all banks wanted to fall in line with these broad scope outlines that were allegedly designed to reduce fraud and risk. There are already tons of regulations in place for that including the Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act plus answering to the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Those organizations joined together to form an official Task Force. The Independent Community Bankers of America sent a letter to the DoJ voicing their opinion that Operation Choke Point hurts their ability to provide a beneficial relationship with their communities:
“ICBA is extremely concerned that Operation Choke Point gives community banks the untenable choices of either severing valuable and legal customer relationships or risking DoJ enforcement actions. ICBA firmly believes that community banks should have the ability to provide indirect payment-processing services to companies engaged in higher-risk, legal activities provided that they demonstrate risk-mitigation actions consistent with risk-based banking, such as initial and ongoing risk assessments, due diligence, and monitoring for changes in customer-transaction patterns.” ~ ICBA letter to the US DoJ
The DoJ is claiming Choke Point’s target is payday lenders but bankers all over are speaking up about the truth. These bankers have told the DoJ that sweeping campaigns like Choke Point drive lawful individuals and companies out of the banking system. Choke Point is being called the banking version of stop-and-frisk. Critics are correct in pointing out that they are hurting low-income people who use services like payday loans.
The reasons cited are irrelevant when the true motivation lies in the Puritanical drive to deny legal workers the right to use modern financial services as if that would be the thing that cripples the porn industry. They can get away with it because of a 2012 FDIC regulation that is designed to impede money laundering. I have yet to see how actors, producers and the rest who make legal wages and need to deposit their money or get a home loan are putting the financial institutions at risk for anything other than making them more money.
Chase was charging me extremely high interest on a credit card I had with them for years; mind you, this is after I realized how evil Bank of America is. To give you an example of how much money they made off me after thousands of dollars had been charged through the years: I paid off the card but had some minor new purchases (gas for my commute to work, recurring payments for cell phone insurance and my monthly payment for podcast hosting). That came to around $107 and there was $22 in interest. I’m no math whiz but it seems to me that by turning down legal workers of the adult industries (those that make porn, those that work in factories that make sex toys, those that work for companies that sell devices to prevent STDs, etc.) are a way to make the banks money.
No one normally walks around talking about where they have their checking account or their mortgage. There’s no reasonable expectation here that by having customers who are involved in adult industries, it would in any way tarnish the “image” of the banks which is the excuse cited in some of the letters to customers. That “image,” by the way, is that they are middle-aged white American male mongers who wastefully take government bailouts and then buy jets.
When I began discussing this story on social media, I had plenty of friends who weren’t afraid to speak up saying they would close their Chase bank accounts and find a financial institution that doesn’t discriminate nor shame people based on where they make their perfectly legal income. In this move, will those Powers That Be at Chase and the other banks stop buying porn and condoms themselves? They are people who looked at a regulation definition and made the determination that another individual was “bad” for their business. Word is that Wells Fargo will gladly take your business if you are a porn star!
What does this mean for those of us who are rather small potatoes? My colleagues from Cosplay Deviants or from other sites like Suicide Girls, D20 Girls and MyGeekGoddess? If the name on our checks is subtle, it may require some extra work on the banks’ part but in the end, it would show that we make money through adult industries.
Does this growing sex-shaming directive by the banks, Justice Department or FDIC affect you if you’re an author or artist of erotica?
As you can see if you look up Operation Choke Point, there are many industries that the DoJ has defined as “risks” worthy of having their bank access cut off. This includes things from firearm sales to charities to credit repair services. Somewhere in their list is pornography right alongside Ponzi schemes.
Bear in mind, this operation is not going after the porn industry as a whole — it’s going after people who work in the porn industry in legal jobs who need financial institutions to live a normal life of paying their bills and cashing their paychecks.
For more nsfw pics, follow @ToplessAmber on Twitter.