Misclassification and Massage Therapy

 Misclassified as Sex Workers: The Struggle of Massage Therapists

*This blog post was written with the help of AI and Google Bard but also includes my own personal experiences of dealing with discrimination at Wells Fargo.

Massage therapists are essential members of the healthcare community, providing relief from pain, muscle tension, and stress. However, they often face challenges in obtaining financing and maintaining positive credit scores due to a widespread misclassification as sex workers by banks and other financial institutions.

This misclassification can lead to a number of problems for massage therapists, including:

  • Higher interest rates and fees
  • Difficulty obtaining loans
  • Denial of credit cards
  • Damage to credit scores

In some cases, massage therapists have even been shut down by their banks for suspected money laundering, even though their businesses are legitimate. Massage therapists should avoid having any accounts at Wells Fargo as they might, without any evidence, freeze and forcibly shut down your account and report it as "closed for cause" of suspected fraud. When this happens, their fraud department will refuse to speak with you and will treat you as if you are a criminal. You will be given no opportunity to defend yourself. Having a history of any account that is "closed for cause" is a huge red-flag for fraudulent activity. If this is documented as part of your financial history, it will often cause a snowball effect with other financial institutions. Massage therapists should beware!

The misclassification of massage therapists as sex workers is often based on outdated stereotypes and a lack of understanding of the profession. Massage therapists are licensed professionals who provide a valuable service. They should not be penalized for their chosen profession.

There are a number of things that massage therapists can do to protect themselves from misclassification, including:

  • Clearly stating the nature of their business in all communications with banks and other financial institutions.
  • Keeping detailed records of their income and expenses.
  • Obtaining professional licenses and certifications.
  • Joining professional organizations.

Massage therapists should also be aware of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA prohibits banks and other financial institutions from reporting inaccurate or incomplete information about consumers. If a massage therapist believes that they have been misclassified, they are advised to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

However, there is little that the CFPB can do to help. Banks are allowed, in-fact they are even required, to make reports and keep records of any activity that they view as suspicious. These reports are kept confidential under law, so massage therapists might not even know that they are being misclassified! Since these records are confidential, there is no way for massage therapists to be able to defend themselves. They can submit a complaint to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the CFPB, but these organizations can do nothing to help because the law allows banks to legally discriminate based on assumptions without any regard to factual evidence.

The CFPB has taken steps to address the misclassification of massage therapists. In 2016, the CFPB issued a guidance document advising banks and other financial institutions to take steps to avoid misclassifying massage therapists. The CFPB has also taken enforcement actions against banks that have misclassified massage therapists.

Despite these efforts, misclassification remains a problem for many massage therapists. It is important for massage therapists to be aware of this issue and to take steps to protect themselves.

In addition to the tips above, massage therapists can also:

  • Contact their bank or financial institution directly to discuss the issue.
  • Work with other massage therapists to raise awareness of the issue.
  • Support legislation that would protect massage therapists from misclassification.

By taking these steps, massage therapists can help to ensure that they are treated fairly and that their businesses are able to thrive.