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CU calls for federal investigation of BofA’s debit card fee

Congress and federal regulators should investigate the controversial new fee

October 4, 2011

Consumers Union Calls for Federal Investigation of Bank of America’s Debit Card Fee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following Bank of America’s announcement of a new $5 monthly fee on debit card transactions, Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, called on Congress and federal regulators to investigate the controversial new fee.

In letters to the House and Senate banking committees and financial regulators, the organization urged them to investigate whether the new monthly fee is justified and whether it takes unfair advantage of consumers simply to boost profits. The letter notes that the fee, which could cost Bank of America customers an extra $60 per year, comes at a time when American families are hard pressed to pay additional charges.

“Bank of America’s decision to charge a monthly fee for debit card transactions is ill-timed and unwise. The bank continues to struggle financially. Yet it now appears ready to drive away customers with the promise of more excessive fees,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. “Consumers cannot afford and should not be required to pay a costly fee that appears to be arbitrary and designed to generate income for the bank rather than covering the costs of providing debit card services.”

The letter addresses an important question being debated by the public – namely why consumers should be charged more to access their own money. The organization also notes that many consumers are questioning why this bank, which just a few years ago avoided disaster because of taxpayer assistance, should now be allowed to levy this unfair and excessive fee.

Banks said “As more banks begin testing similar fees, it is critical to examine whether such fees are justified, and reasonable and proportional to the services provided.”

For a copy of the letter, please contact David Butler or Kara Kelber at Consumers Union at 202-462-6262.