Bank apologizes for calling police on black man trying to cash paycheck

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

The size of your paycheck can depend on your location

Huntington Bank apologized this week for calling police on a black man who tried to cash his paycheck at a branch in Brooklyn, Ohio.

The regional bank found itself on the defensive after a local news station relayed how Ohio resident Paul McCowns was treated on Dec. 1 when he tried to cash his first paycheck after three weeks at a new job working for an electric company.

First, a teller asked McCowns for two pieces of identification, and he handed over his license and Social Security card. He then complied with being fingerprinted, which is standard for nonbank customers trying to cash checks, according to Huntington.

Multiple tellers then debated whether the check was legitimate, and after failing to reach his employer, they handed McCowns back his check, for roughly $1,000.

McCowns didn't realize the bank had also called police until he left and a squad car pulled up. After handcuffing him and placing him in the backseat, police were able to reach his employer and confirm the check was valid.

"It was highly embarrassing," McCowns told Cleveland 19 News. McCowns, who said he believes he was racially profiled, was able to cash his check at a different Huntington branch the following day.

In an emailed statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Huntington said:

"We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event. We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns. Anyone who walks into a Huntington branch should feel welcomed. Regrettably, that did not occur in this instance and we are very sorry. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards in how we operate, hire and train colleagues, and interact with the communities we have the privilege of serving."

First published on December 19, 2018

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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