12/15/2011 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jack Reed (D-RI) released the following statement today after Chase, the nation’s largest bank, announced it will voluntarily adopt a disclosure form designed to make checking account terms and fees transparent and easy for consumers to understand, as the Senators have been urging.

A copy of the form, developed by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project, is attached.  It outlines all the basic checking account terms and conditions – including ATM fees, interest rates, overdraft penalties, and account closing fees -- in a concise, easy-to-read, one-page format.  Currently, the median length of checking account disclosures is 111 pages, according to a Pew study of the nation's 10 largest banks.

“Nobody is going to read 111 pages of fine print,” said Reed.  “Adopting a simple, consumer-friendly disclosure form is good for consumers and good for businesses.  Clearer disclosures help customers save money and make informed decisions.  Last year, Americans paid over $38 billion in overdraft fees alone and they’ve had enough.   Instead of using hidden fees to treat their customers like ATM machines, banks need to be more transparent.  I’d like Pew’s disclosure form to become like a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" that lets customers know they are getting a fair shake.  I hope more banks will get on board with this standardized form and, when we get a critical mass, it will be a real victory for consumers.  It will also level the playing field so banks can fairly compete for business.”

“Chase’s decision to voluntarily adopt a simple and clear fee disclosure form will help consumers and shows that transparency and fairness are a good business plan,” Durbin said. “Giving consumers clear, upfront and accurate information about the fees that they will be charged will allow consumers to make sound financial decisions. As we’ve seen over the last few months, consumers are demanding they be treated fairly and I’m pleased the nation’s largest bank is listening. It’s time for the nation’s other banks follow Chase’s lead.”

Last month, Durbin and Reed called on the nation’s financial institutions to voluntarily simplify checking account fee disclosures.  Durbin and Reed also sent a letter to Raj Date, acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asking the agency to require financial institutions to post Pew's simplified form on their websites.

Prior to Chase’s announcement, the Pew disclosure form had been voluntarily adopted by Pentagon Federal Credit Union and the North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union.