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Small Business Suffers Under Federal Operation Choke Point

An under-the-radar Department of Justice initiative that started earlier this year has been gradually coming to light as it negatively affects small businesses across America. Dubbed Operation Choke Point, its intent is to strangle banks that provide services to targeted industries. By threatening those banks with subpoenas, expensive investigations and heightened scrutiny, the federal government is, for all intents and purposes, forcing the banks to cease doing business with industries (not specific companies) that the government thinks might have questionable individual businesses. Without access to banking services, businesses cannot process payments, purchase goods, pay employees, or pay utilities. In short, they cannot do business.

What are these dastardly industries that the Department of Justice is trying to save the country from?  Coin dealers. Online sellers. Ammunition and gun sellers. Pawn shops.

And money services companies like PayDayHawaii.

This past winter we became collateral damage in the Department of Justice’s Operation Choke Point, an initiative launched by the DOJ to fight consumer fraud.

Operation Choke Point’s purpose is to deny supposedly fraudulent businesses access to banking services. However, although those businesses are being punished and even forced to close, they themselves are never investigated. No charges are brought. No questions are asked. No opportunity to present their business’s worth is granted. No due process of law.

Legitimate, lawful, and community-minded businesses, such as ours, had their banking accounts terminated as banks came under heightened government scrutiny of their account holders.

In our case, the damage has been done. After having our bank account closed this April by Bank of Hawaii after 14 years of reliable business dealings, we have been forced to bank 2,500 miles away in California. This has cost us tens of thousands of dollars in additional expenses and completely disrupted our cash flow.

PayDayHawaii (Money Service Centers of Hawaii, Inc.) is a locally owned and operated money service business founded in 2000 and operating ten offices from Lihue to Hilo. Thirty-two out of our staff of 35 were born and raised in Hawaii. Four of our managers have been with the company for over ten years. We operate lawfully and have had only a single complaint to the DCCA in over 14 years in business. We offer fee-based financial services to thousands of working class local families and local small businesses. Most of our customers are not able to afford banking services at national banks. Many are regular customers and are viewed as part of our family.

It is with great sadness that, because of Operation Choke Point, we must downsize and close two of our stores this fall, with the possibility of two more closures in smaller markets over the next year.

Closing stores:
PayDayHawaii #109 Anchor Square
222 Papalaua Street #118
Lahaina, HI 96761
Telephone: (808) 661-0411
PayDayHawaii #119 Azeka Shopping Center
1280 S. Kihei Rd. Ste 119
Kihei, HI 96753
Telephone: (808) 891-1030

Remaining open on Maui
Our other location on Maui will remain open, and we hope it will be convenient for you to transfer your business there. Please call them with any questions, or stop by to chat.
PayDayHawaii #111 Queen Ka’ahumanu Center
275 Ka’ahumanu Ave. #C2-D1
Kahului, HI 96732
Telephone: (808) 873-0609

We understand that some services may be considered controversial these days, though not by our customers. But we can all agree that a lawful business has a right to legislative due process. Operation Choke Point has taken away this right.

What you can do:
Contact your state and federal representatives here, and tell them your experiences and how you feel about this issue.

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