Angry Customers Move Their Money in 'Bank Transfer Day' Protest
LOS ANGELES -- Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of Downtown Los Angeles Saturday as part of a nationwide movement against big banks.

Saturday's demonstration was organized by the occupiers and a coalition of labor unions and community organizations asking consumers to close their bank accounts with large U.S. banks and switch to community and non-profit credit unions.

"We have had enough," "We can see your greedy side" were just some of the slogans chanted by demonstrators at Downtown's California Plaza.

"We bail these guys out, to the tune of trillions of dollars, and they're sitting on trillions of dollars and they're doing nothing to pump it into the economy," former Bank of America Danny Hahn griped. "I don't want to do business with them."

Hahn was one of the thousands across the nation who withdrew their life's savings from Wall Street's banks. Another woman said she closed her account at Wells Fargo after 25 years with the company.

Bank Transfer Day -- the protest movement urging Americans to take their business out of big banks on Saturday and put it into credit unions and local banks -- is being used as a marketing opportunity by some.

The campaign was launched by an Echo Park woman on Facebook and quickly grew in to a nationwide movement. Nearly 650,000 Americans opened credit union accounts in the past month, much higher than the 80,000 monthly average, according to a trade organization for credit unions.

``I've been shocked at how many people have stood up alongside me,'' Kristen Christian told Reuters earlier this week of her upstart movement.

While Bank of America's now-aborted plan for a $5 monthly debit card fee drove much of that impulse to switch, the Occupy Wall Street movement has helped draw attention to the issue as well.

The ideals behind Transfer Day -- stick it to Wall Street, give the little guy your money, and so on -- dovetail with the central themes of the Occupy protests. Sensing a wave of populist frustration, some banks are trying to get in on the action.

``Thinking of making the switch? Use our switch kit,'' Webster Financial Corp's Webster Bank said in a Twitter message on Friday, one that even made use of the movement's ''BankTransferDay'' hashtag.

A Webster spokeswoman said the bank started an advertising campaign earlier this week to pitch its no-fee debit card services, and that it used Twitter and Facebook to augment those marketing programs.

Some credit unions and co-ops, like Long Island's Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Texas's Firstmark Credit Union, advertised extended hours on Saturday for those interested in making the change.

Others are going for an even more attractive offer than extra hours -- extra money. Stanford Federal Credit Union is offering a $100 bonus to the first 100 people to open checking accounts on Nov. 5.

For some banks, though, Bank Transfer Day matters less than simply convincing people to make a change, no matter the day.

Cambridge Savings Bank, a Massachusetts lender with more than $2 billion in assets, posted a Twitter message on Oct. 28 urging people to come in and switch.

``Why wait until November 5th?'' it said on its @CSBinspired account.

The protesters are targeting banks like Bank of America , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo for mass withdrawals on Saturday.''