How (And Why) to Close Your Accounts with Wells Fargo This Halloween

Texans in Austin and the Rio Grande Valley are organizing to close more than a dozen individual Wells Fargo accounts on Thursday. We are protesting the financial institution doing business with companies that profiteer from locking up immigrants.

Wells Fargo has long-standing business relationships with the two largest private prison contractors — Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group.  Wells Fargo administers a mutual fund for the GEO Group and is CCA’s bank. 

The Texas action comes on the heels of action taken by Enlace in Portland, Ore., to ask city officials to stop buying Wells Fargo bonds. Pressure has been building against the bank for years to stop doing business with CCA and GEO.

I’ll be joining in the protest and closing my Wells Fargo account. Here’s what I’ve learned about closing your accounts easily.

First things first

Decide where you want to move your money. Try a credit union or community bank. You’ll want to have this new account open before you make a move on closing your Wells Fargo account. 

This ensures that you have an account to put your money into and won’t have to walk around with a check and no way to access funds. You’ll also want to change any direct deposits and auto debits you have set up immediately after closing your old account. 

While shopping for a new bank, avoid Bank of America and Chase. They also invest big money in private prisons. 

Put it in writing

Whether you close your account online or go into a physical branch, have a letter ready requesting your account be closed and give your reasons. For example, if you empty your account first, Wells Fargo asks for an email request to close the account. You can also call them at 1-800-869-3557 or do it in person.

This is the letter I’ll be using when I close my Wells Fargo accounts this week. Please feel free to use it.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am deeply disturbed about Wells Fargo investing in the private prison industry, specifically the GEO Group (GEO) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

Wells Fargo has been under pressure from immigrant communities and human rights advocates for years to stop doing business with CCA and Geo. Wells Fargo spokesperson Tom Unger recently told reporters in Portland that bank managers make decisions based on what is best for their clients. (Source: http://bit.ly/19b1FIi)

I am also a Wells Fargo client and investment in private immigration prisons is not what’s best for me or my community.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against private prisons because of the abuse, rape, and death of people detained inside. CCA and GEO have both spent millions in campaign donations and lobbying for harsher immigration enforcement to ensure their access to more prisoners. This is a threat to human rights and civil liberties.

This letter is to notify Wells Fargo that I am withdrawing my balance today and will cancel and close all of my accounts.

I will be encouraging and helping my friends and family to do the same.

Please send me written confirmation of my closed checking, savings and credit accounts to [email] and [mailing address].

 

Watch out for zombies

A zombie account is a bank account that comes back to life after being closed. This happens if a debit or credit hits the account number and it is reopened to deal with the balance.

This could cost you in fees. 

That's why it’s a good idea to have your new account opened before you close an account. Give yourself a few business days between the time you change your accounts and the dates of any auto debits or bill pays to protect yourself from zombies.

Congratulations! You have divested yourself and your family from the private prison industry.