Thursday, November 3, 2011

Two senators push for bank account fee disclosure forms

Two senators are calling on banks to use a standardized form to disclose their fees on checking accounts.

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., published a statement Thursday pushing for more fee transparency, saying consumers are now at risk for hidden fees after big banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo decided to forego debit card fees.

Take a look at the sample disclosure form here (PDF, begins on pg. 3). The senators teamed up with The Pew Charitable Trusts to create the form.

“We saw this week that the consumers of America have had enough," Durbin said in a statement. "Today we’re calling all of the nation’s financial institutions to adopt a one-page, easy-to-read model disclosure listing the fees and key terms for their checking accounts. Giving consumers information clear, upfront and accurate information about the fees that they will be charged will allow consumers to shop around and make sound financial decisions.”

The two also sent a letter to Raj Date, acting director of the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asking him to require such a form be posted on banks' websites.

The banks said the debit fees were a response to caps on "swipe fees" merchants pay on every debit card transaction as part of the Dodd Frank financial reform law, a provision introduced by Durbin.