FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Frank Torres or Mary Griffin
at 202-462-6262

RISING BANK FEES CREATE FINANCIAL BURDENS
FOR LOW AND MODERATE INCOME CONSUMERS

Millions of Americans, looking for a place to safely deposit their hard earned dollars and a means to pay their bills, get hit every month with checking account fees they cannot avoid. And those fees are going up as banks have increased checking account charges unless high minimum balances are met — balances that are out of reach for many American families. An estimated 12 million households currently have no bank accounts at all.

WHAT CONSUMERS NEED

Low-cost Basic Banking Accounts: Most people need banks, but many cannot maintain the high minimum deposits required to avoid monthly charges. Low-cost basic banking accounts, with reasonable service fees and low or no minimum initial deposit or balance requirements, are needed to lessen the financial burden on low and moderate income consumers.

Congress Needs to Act: As Congress considers H.R. 10, a bill to restructure and “modernize” the financial services industry, letting banks merge with insurance and securities firms, it must seize the opportunity to make sure banks meet the needs of all consumers, not just the wealthiest among us. In the version of H.R. 10 passed by the House of Representatives, banks operating under the new law would be required to offer low-cost basic banking to consumers. But on September 11, the Senate Banking Committee by a vote of 10 to 8 stripped this important consumer provision out of H.R. 10. When the full Senate takes up the bill, it needs to put basic banking back in the bill to help ensure struggling low and middle income consumers get a break from exorbitant fees for essential banking services.

9-18-98