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Sheila Dixon: Bank of America has failed Baltimore’s business community | READER COMMENTARY

Melissa Perri, who runs a software consulting company, ProdUX Labs, in New York, April 3, 2020. Perri was denied a loan from Bank of America on Friday despite already having a business account and a line of credit there.
Melissa Perri, who runs a software consulting company, ProdUX Labs, in New York, April 3, 2020. Perri was denied a loan from Bank of America on Friday despite already having a business account and a line of credit there. (Sara Naomi Lewkowicz/The New York Times)

Bank of America appears to have acted grossly irresponsibly in violating the spirit of the federal coronavirus assistance bill. The bank allegedly instituted its own predatory policies that alienated countless struggling small business owners by giving preferential treatment to the institution’s existing borrowers, according to lawsuit. I am extremely disappointed and call on President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress to act swiftly in reprimanding the Bank of America for these practices (“Small businesses say Bank of America unfairly locked them out of federal lending program," April 3.

During such a critical juncture in our country’s history when businesses are suffering and looking to these financial institutions for leadership and stability, we need to show acts of compassion, not corporate greed. I absolutely deplore Bank of America instituting such discriminatory policies aimed at the most vulnerable population during these times of economic uncertainty. I applaud Alan M. Rifkin and his partners who have decided to take BOA to task over these predatory practices, and I urge other local and more responsible lenders to act decisively when presented with these applications from small business owners. That would include offering these struggling business owners pro-bono legal and financial advisers to help those who can’t read or comprehend the detailed filing information provided to them by Congress.

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They should not be barred from receiving necessary financial resources due to their inability of knowing the ins and outs of legislative or financial guidelines and practices. We are going to get through this health crisis and need to do so together and not allow for price gauging or corporate greed to take advantage of the circumstances Americans find themselves in through no fault of their own.

Sheila Dixon, Baltimore

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The writer, a Democrat, served as mayor of Baltimore from 2007 to 2010.

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