Financial services can be confusing but for non-English speaking ones living in the U.S., which at last count is more than 41 million, accessing financial services and products can be a huge problem.
That’s according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which recently released a report on financial education programs geared toward immigrant populations.
The CFPB found that Spanish only speaking households are five times less likely to use a bank or credit union. That's a pretty big deal since, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Hispanics are the largest ethnic or racial minority in the U.S., making up about 17 percent of the country’s total population. What’s more, of the citizens in the U.S. that speak another language other than English at home, 62 percent are speaking Spanish.
“Consumers who do not have a checking or savings account may be paying higher fees or may be missing credit-building opportunities,” the CFPB said on its website when announcing the new report. “Consumers who do not speak English well may also have trouble getting understandable information about financial products, comparing costs, and correcting errors.”
What’s more, the government agency created after the recent financial crisis, said consumers who don’t speak English or otherwise face language barriers could face a higher likelihood that they will make a bad decision or worse get scammed by fraudsters who target the immigrant population.
In order to address these barriers that prevent non-speaking citizens from accessing financial services, the CFPB said its call centers are staffed with workers that speak over 180 languages to help consumers with their questions and problems. The government agency also has free, printable financial education materials on its website that comes in several languages other than English including Spanish.
“Immigrants make up a large number of consumers in America, with over 41 million living in the United States. For the subset of immigrants who don’t speak English well, accessing and using financial products and services can be a challenge,” the CFPB said.