February 22, 2024

Warren, Omar, Lawmakers Seek Information from Big Banks on Account Closure Practices that Discriminate Against Muslim Americans

Warren, Omar, Lawmakers  Seek Information from Big Banks on Account Closure Practices that Discriminate Against Muslim Americans

“[F]inancial institutions, including your own, have continued to close customers’ accounts involuntarily and without basic notice, explanation, or ability to contest the decision”; bank practices “pose[] a particularly severe threat for customers from the Muslim community.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – Following reports that major banks may be disproportionately restricting or shutting down the accounts of Muslim Americans, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), and U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the heads of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank seeking information on their practices and the steps they are taking to prevent discriminatory banking practices. 

Recent reports indicate that major financial institutions have been shutting down accounts, often without warning or recourse, as a result of their efforts to mitigate suspicious activity. These “de-risking” practices terminate or restrict business relationships indiscriminately with broad categories of customers, and appear to disproportionately impact Muslim Americans, threatening equitable access to financial services. One recent study found that a “quarter of the American Muslim population have faced hurdles while banking in the United States,” including being denied opening a new personal account, having a personal account suspended or closed, and being denied payment sent or received via payment apps. 

“Rather than take steps to appropriately manage potential risks, financial institutions instead too often close these customers’ accounts outright,” wrote the lawmakers. “De-risking can have devastating impacts on consumers. Individuals may lose access to their assets for weeks, may not be able to pay their bills on time, and may see their credit scores decline.”

This letter requests information from the banks regarding their account closure policies and the number of accounts closed in recent years. 

Senator Warren and Representative Omar previously sent a letter in December 2022 to financial regulators requesting information on their work to modernize financial crimes and sanctions compliance obligations in order to protect and promote equitable banking access. 

Senator Warren has been a longtime leader in consumer protection and equitable access to financial services.