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WASHINGTON – Eight Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that, along with reforming practices in issuing international remittances, would allow credit unions to cash non-member checks and provide remittances to non-members. The International Remittance Consumer Protection Act of 2004 would also mandate disclosures to remittance customers and an error resolution process for remittance transfers. “It has been estimated that 15-20% of the money being sent back to loved ones abroad is being lost in fees and other transaction costs, often hidden from the remittance sender,” said Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.), the principal sponsor of the legislation and the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Other sponsors of the legislation, all Democrats, include Jon Corzine (NJ), Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Daniel Akaka (HI) Chris Dodd (CT), Barbara Boxer (CA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD). The bill would also make some pretty sweeping changes to the remittance industry. In addition to any other applicable disclosures required under the existing regulations, remittance transfer providers would be required to provide three specific disclosures to the consumer at the time a transfer is initiated, but before it is completed. These include the total amount of currency tendered by the consumer to the provider for the transfer; the total amount of currency that will be sent to the recipient in the foreign country (this amount must be denominated in foreign currency of the receiving country), and the total remittance transfer cost. This total cost must include all fees in a single dollar amount which includes the exchange rate fee. The bill would establish an error resolution process for remittance transfer errors, including those in which the full amount of the funds to be remitted was not made available to the designated recipient in the foreign country. In this process, the consumer would have 365 days after the promised date of delivery to inform the remittance transfer provider, either orally or in writing, of the error. The remittance transfer provider would have no more than 90 days after receiving the complaint to resolve the dispute. -

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