Gillibrand pushes amendment to ban paper billing fees

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is pushing an amendment to her chamber's financial regulatory reform bill that would prevent banks from charging customers who decide not to switch to electronic billing.

While some firms levy those fees to steer users online, a switch that saves the company money, Gillibrand said the penalties unfairly hurt Americans with inadequate Internet access.

According to the senator, the fees are "particularly harmful for seniors with limited computer literacy, New Yorkers in rural areas with limited Internet access, or low-income individuals who lack Internet access and are forced to pay to get copies of their financial information, or not get that information at all."

Gillibrand's amendment would leave it up to the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to review the fees that banks, credit card companies and others levy on consumers. The senator's effort would also allow the bureau to bar similar fees that financial firms impose on customers who pay using a physical check, rather than an electronic one.

"My legislation will make sure that financial institution cannot take advantage of seniors or struggling families by imposing more fees,” Gillibrand said.