If you read this past Sunday’s issue of the Star Tribune, your attention may have been drawn to the article on the front cover titled, “Bank schemes adding hidden costs to consumers.”

As an employee of Affinity Plus, a not-for-profit credit union that’s committed to giving 90% of its profits back to its members in the form of reduced fees and increased services, the headline that incorporated the words, “adding hidden fees,” made me wonder, “What’re big banks up to now?”

According the article, Goldman Sachs, an investment banking, securities and investment management firm with headquarters in New York, is earning money every time you open an aluminum can of juice, soda, and other beverages. In 2010, when Goldman purchased Metro International Trade Services, it acquired 27 industrial warehouses in Detroit in which more than a quarter of aluminum on the market is stored. By implementing a strategy to increase the storage time, it’s able to charge additional rent for the storage of the metal, and this cost is what’s ultimately passed on to consumers.

“Only a 10th of a cent or so of an aluminum can’s purchase price can be traced back to the strategy. But multiply that by the 90 billion aluminum cans consumed in the United States each year – and add the tons of aluminum used in things like cars, electronics and house siding – and the efforts by Goldman and other financial players has cost American consumers more than $5 billion over the last three years, say former industry executives, analysts and consultants,” writes New York Times reporter, David Kocieniewski.

The storage of aluminum isn’t the only endeavor large financial institutions are dipping their toes into that that’s nonfinancial business – they’re also in the business of oil, wheat, cotton and coffee which is “forcing consumers to pay more every time they fill up a gas tank, flick on a light switch, open a beer or buy a cell phone,” states Kocieniewski.

In the past couple of months, we’ve learned that big banks earned record profits in the first quarter by charging their customers fees. And now they’re getting even more creative (greedy) in the ways they make money by investing in nonfinancial business. (The next endeavor stated in Kocieniewski’s article is JPMorgan Chase, Goldman and the Blackstone Group are planning to buy up to 80 percent of copper available on the market.)

Now that we’ve exposed the tactics of big banks, we want to remind you that as a not-for-profit credit union, Affinity Plus invests 90% of our profits back into our members. You’ll never find us investing in any other type of business other than your business.

Help us keep our not-for-profit status by joining the Don’t Tax My Credit Union movement. As you may have heard, Congress is considering a major reform of the U.S. tax code, which could nullify all credit unions', including Affinity Plus’, tax exempt status. With your help, we can combat this threatening tax reform so that we can continue to invest in you, our members, and help you be financially successful.