Protections for Checking Customers Vary Widely Among States: Pew

November 13, 2013
American Banker 
overdraft news

Consumers in the Northeast and Southwest United States are more likely to receive consumer-friendly services with their checking accounts compared to residents in the Midwest and some Western states, a new analysis from Pew Charitable Trusts suggests. The analysis provides a state-by-state look at how 36 of the 50 largest U.S. banks performed in disclosures, overdrafts, and dispute resolution. Fifty-six percent of banks included in the national survey were found to provide disclosure boxes that clearly summarize fees, terms, and conditions associated with basic checking accounts. Only 3 percent barred overdraft fees at ATMs, but 17 percent were found to block overdrafts at the point of sale. Twenty percent of the banks do not reorder debit transactions from highest to lowest cost in order to maximize fees; 40 percent do not require customers to sign a class-action waiver; and 39 percent do not require mandatory binding arbitration.

Overall, U.S. banks have a best-practice adoption rate of 40 percent. Banks in New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island all had best-practice adoption rates between 41 percent and 60 percent. California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana also had similar rates. Many states in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Appalachian region had best-practice adoption rates between 21 percent and 40 percent. In its report, Pew called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to standardize bank policies regarding overdraft, disclosure, and dispute resolution.

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