Consumers could close bank accounts at any time at no charge regardless of the size of their bank balance and could do it in person or by phone, according to legislation introduced by Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.).
Miller, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said the measure is needed because of the fees that some of the larger banks are charging. Bank of America recently announced it would charge customers who use their debit card a $5 a month fee, as a result of the limits on debit interchange fees that the Federal Reserve mandated at the behest of Congress.
“As megabanks flirt with menus of new fees, an increasing number of Americans will want to switch banks,” Miller said in a statement. “That is the way things work in a competitive, free market as unrepentant banks are still trying to rake in vulgar profits from their customers.”
Miller’s bill, which so far has no cosponsors, would prohibit financial institutions from levying fees or charges once they received a request to close an account. It also requires institutions to notify consumers of preauthorized and recurring debits that hit their account for 30 days after a qualified account is closed. Also, the financial institution must give consumers at least 30 days to make a payment for an account that is closed with a negative balance before the institution can initiate any collection activity, or reporting to a third party.
In addition, Miller’s bill states that that if an account is closed with a negative balance that is only caused by overdraft or other fees, the institution may not report the account as delinquent to ChexSystems or any similar specialty consumer reporting service.
The bill, HR 3077, has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee.