Banks predatory hard-sell lending practices

Written by Carly Simon-Gersuk

After the financial crash of 2008 you would think banks learned their lesson, but they are still continuously coming under fire for their predatory lending practices. According to a revealing report from the Center for Popular Democracy, bank tellers and loan interviewers are required to push subprime loans and credit cards on customers who would be better off without them. In 2011, Wells Fargo was fined $85 million by the Federal Reserve Board for forcing workers to sell expensive mortgages to prime borrowers (1). In 2013, Bank of America was fined $1.27 billion for rewarding their employees for producing loans.

An article in The New Republic talks in detail about Capital One’s marketing campaigns to push people into debt. A former employee discussed in the article how she worked on their secured card product, “Mainstreet proactive credit limit increases”. This product ultimately was a way for Capital One to increase the credit limit allowed for borrowers without getting permission. She reported that Capital One collects $23 billion in interest per year (2). The employee also goes on to how she would make hypotheticals to make it easier for herself to sell credit cards. This is probably a common practice for employees at banks to push products on people who could possibly barely make ends meet. 

As bank cultures and practices evolve, some big banks still have systems that reward and penalize employees based on their ability to sell these subprime loans. Credit unions, on the other hand, offer no such reward/penalty system to employees and you won’t be pressured into a loan that doesn’t suit your financial situation. Credit unions pride themselves on member service. This means their employees aim to connect to their members to suggest products and services that will help them reach their goals. 

To help members reach their goals, financial literacy and educational resources are readily available to assist in making smarter financial decisions. Under the Federal Credit Union Act, a purpose of credit unions is promoting thrift among its members and creating sources of productive purposes. Thus, the National Credit Union Association works to reinforce efforts, raise awareness and increase access to credit union services. These are three things we, MoveCU, also promote and participate in.

So do not worry about fables and inconsistencies; take control of your personal finances. Feel confident in knowing that at a credit union you are not just a member, you are part-owner. 


Written by Carly Simon-Gersuk


1.The Center for Popular Democracy, April 2015,
2.The New Republic, October 2019,