Millions of consumers considered underbanked

Even as financial institutions continue to broadly expand their marketing efforts in the wake of the recession, millions of Americans still do not have access to basic accounts or lines of credit.

In 2005, about one in every four consumers simply did not have the ability to access banking services, loans or credit cards, and that number has continued to grow since, with the problem having grown particularly during in the last year, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Soon, as many as one in three Americans may be unable to access these basic financial products.

A potential cause for this growing concern is that financial institutions are now more cautious about lending to riskier borrowers as a result of the recent financial reforms at the federal level, the report said. Since the middle of 2008, more than $1.6 trillion in various lines of credit have been bounced from the lending system.

Consumers looking for access to credit may want to order a copy of their credit reports, which may allow them to uncover unfairly reported items that can damage credit scores and, as a result, restrict access to favorable financial products and interest rates.