Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bank of America Facing Boycott Over Credit Card


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  Charlotte Observer 02/17/2007

Coalition says bank should be charged with `aiding and abetting' illegal immigrants


A coalition of groups that advocate for tighter U.S. borders has launched a boycott against Bank of America Corp. because of a new credit card that could be used by illegal immigrants.

The National Illegal Immigration Boycott Coalition is asking people to close their accounts and sign a petition at Organizer William Gheen, president of Raleigh-based Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, also argues bank officials should face federal charges for "aiding and abetting" illegal immigrants.

"Nobody is above the law, including Bank of America," he said.

The boycott is the latest backlash against a credit card the Charlotte bank is testing in Los Angeles that requires little or no credit history. Customers must have a checking account in good standing with the bank, but they don't necessarily need a Social Security number to sign up.

Two Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee also told Fox News on Friday they would ask for hearings on the program, citing concerns about promoting illegal immigration and identity theft.

Bank of America spokeswoman Betsy Weinberger said the card was not "specifically developed or marketed for illegal immigrants," adding the initiative allows customers to build a credit history with a "leading bank."

Eager to find new customers among the nation's burgeoning ranks of Hispanic immigrants, U.S. banks are increasingly offering checking accounts, money transfer services and mortgages that don't require a Social Security number. Bank of America is the first major credit card company to step into the arena.