Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin on Thursday asked the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue a regulation requiring financial institutions to clearly disclose all the fees they charge for checking accounts.
Durbin (D-Ill.) noted that many financial institutions disclose such information only in a manner that is hard for consumers to find.
A report released by the Pew Health Group in April evaluated the checking accounts offered by the nation’s 10 largest banks and found that that the median length of bank disclosures for checking account policies and information was 111 pages.
Durbin said, “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 issue of checking account fees has been in the news because some financial institutions will begin charging them or increasing them to make up for revenues they are losing because of last year’s Durbin amendment, which mandated that that Federal Reserve cap debit interchange fees.
Fees that large banks charge have been a key factor driving Bank Transfer Day, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday.
Durbin wants the Federal Trade Commission to examine the effectiveness of the exemption for small card issuers (financial institutions with assets of $10 billion or less) contained in the Fed rule, as mandated by Congress.
He also wants the FTC to study the rule’s impact on interchange fee income and whether merchants are discriminating against small issuers.
Durbin has included the requirement that the FTC study the issue, in one of the government spending bills that is currently working its way through Congress.