A Vancouver-based sex worker, Charlee Beckett, revealed that a local credit union declined her application for a business bank account after telling them what her profession is. While selling sex is legal under Canadian law, Beckett stressed that banks and similar service providers seemingly discriminate against individuals connected with the trade.
Beckett related that on September 29, she contacted Envision Financial by phone to ask a few things about setting up a business bank account. Their conversation eventually led to her profession. While the representative sounded excited earlier, Beckett shared that the person on the other line seemed to have lost enthusiasm when she said she was a sex worker.
Beckett pointed out that she received a call from the same representative on October 1, who told her that the head office rejected her application for a business bank account. “It’s discrimination based on my industry,” she said. “I wasn’t necessarily surprised.” However, Beckett stressed that the rejection is a “reinforcement that I am not treated the same as other people.”
“It’s ridiculous that we’re treated differently,” Beckett emphasized.
When asked for comment, Envision Financial declined to give one “due to privacy reasons.”
Sex work policy consultant with Pivot Legal Society, Kerry Porth, divulged that some banks and financial institutions are apprehensive in opening accounts for sex workers because they think the money the latter bring may be deemed as proceeds of a crime. She added that individuals connected with the trade should “stick to personal bank accounts” if possible.
“This is part of the way sex work gets pushed underground,” Porth explained. “You put people in these difficult situations where they have to hide what they do for a living.”
Beckett did have a happy ending to her story, though.
She ended up getting a business account with Vancity, Canada’s largest community credit union. According to a spokesperson from Vancity, their institution “supports removing barriers to financial inclusion, including providing fair access to banking services for those typically left out of the financial system.”