Consumers could close bank accounts at any time at no chargeregardless of the size of their bank balance and could do it inperson or by phone, according to legislation introduced by Rep.Brad Miller (D-N.C.).

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Miller, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, saidthe measure is needed because of the fees that some of the largerbanks are charging. Bank of America recently announced it wouldcharge customers who use their debit card a $5 a month fee, as a result of the limits on debit interchangefees that the Federal Reserve mandated.

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“As megabanks flirt with menus of new fees, an increasingnumber of Americans will want to switch banks,” Miller said in astatement. “That is the way things work in a competitive, freemarket as unrepentant banks are still trying to rake in vulgarprofits from their customers.”

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Miller’s bill, which so far has no co-sponsors, would prohibit banks from levying fees or charges once they receiveda request to close an account. It also requires institutions tonotify consumers of preauthorized and recurring debits that hittheir account for 30 days after a qualified account is closed.

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Also, the financial institution must give consumers at least 30days to make a payment for an account that is closed with anegative balance before the institution can initiate any collectionactivity or reporting to a third party.

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Miller’s measure, the Freedom and Mobility in Banking Act,wouldn’t apply to credit unions because it amends the FederalDeposit Insurance Act.

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In addition, Miller’s bill states that that if an account isclosed with a negative balance that is only caused by overdraft orother fees, the institution may not report the account asdelinquent to ChexSystems or any similar specialty consumerreporting service.

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The bill, HR 3077, has been referred to the House FinancialServices Committee. 

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