The Nebraska Legislature is considering legislation that would force hotels, gas stations, and restaurants to notify customers if they place temporary hold charges on their debit cards. The practice guarantees that merchants are paid for gas bought at the pump or food and service from a restaurant, but it also temporarily denies customers access to money in their accounts.
As one example, the bill's sponsor -- state Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff -- cites the case of a couple who tried to buy diapers and baby food with a credit card. The purchase was denied because a gas station had placed a $75 hold on their account. Without a hold, the legislator said the young parents could have afforded the items.
“This could really hurt a lot of people, if they don’t understand what’s happening to them,” Harms said, noting that these consumers could face overdraft fees, bounced checks, or having a purchase declined. “The whole intent is to have the public better understand what’s occurring. I think merchants owe it to their customers to let them know the charge, and the maximum that it’s going to be.”
His proposal would require the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance to work with interested groups on a consumer awareness brochure for distribution at businesses and banks. Additionally, the attorney general would have to report the number of hold-related complaints to the state in 2015.