Durbin presses banks to better disclose checking account fees

A top Senate Democrat is calling on banks in his home state to simplify checking account fee disclosures.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin is asking financial institutions in Illinois to voluntarily adopt a one-page disclosure form of terms and fees for their checking accounts.

He sent letters on Monday to the Illinois Bankers Association, the Illinois Credit Union League and the Community Bankers Association of Illinois encouraging them to "provide their customers with a standardized, concise and consumer-friendly disclosure form listing the fees and key terms associated with checking accounts.”

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“Not only is being honest with customers about fees the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do in the current business environment," he said. 

"Consumers have demonstrated that they will no longer stay with banks and credit unions that disrespect them by failing to charge fees in an upfront and fair manner," he wrote. "Your member institutions can prove their value to current customers and win new business by satisfying this consumer demand for fair and honest treatment.”

Pentagon Federal Credit Union and the North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union, have agreed to adopt a form created by Pew Charitable Trust.

Last week, Durbin and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) sent a letter to Raj Date, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asking the agency to quickly require financial institutions to post Pew's simplified form on their websites.

"Following the sensible decision by Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other banking giants to roll back or cancel planned debit card usage fees, consumers are now at risk from new, hidden fees being issued in their place," Durbin wrote.

"While recent reforms have helped bring transparency to the system of debit card swipe fees, more has to be done in order to stop hidden fees and make sure consumers understand what they are getting when it comes to banking services."