Checking Account Fees Next Up For Sen. Durbin

If you didn’t know Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, before the whole recent brouhaha over debit cards, banking and fees, you probably do now.

When most banks issued the information to consumers that they’d be jacking up fees, they mentioned the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act by name. The clause was not popular with banks, because it limited their ability to collect revenues on debit card transactions and reduced some of the burden from retailers who absorbed the fees before the Durbin Amendment. And then the banks tried to implement some new fees directly to the consumer, which resulted in a massive backlash and a significant move away from big banks and toward local credit unions.

Now Sen. Durbin is eyeing up checking account fees and their impact on the consumer bottom line. The Senator says there is still an issue with banks and transparency that should be addressed:

“It’s about time we had more disclosure,… We’re starting with checking accounts, but the bottom-line goal is to make sure people know what they’re being charged and can determine whether it’s fair.”

Susan Weinstock of the Pew Health Group’s Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project commented on the issues consumers face when trying to parse checking account fees and terms. She said:

“I think we can all agree that disclosures are critical for consumers to make informed decisions. But the information needs to be presented in a format that is clear and understandable… These documents are not user-friendly, with highly technical and dense texts. Unfortunately, with the lengthy disclosures that go with these accounts, comparison shopping for the right one is next to impossible.”

Do you find checking account fees to be excessive?