SCHUMER: NY'ERS GETTING HIT WITH DOUBLE WHAMMY ATM FEES CHARGED BY BANKS JUST TO ACCESS THEIR OWN MONEY DURING HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON - CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE FEDERAL PROBE AND CRACK DOWN
New Industry Report Found Shocking 72% of Banks "Double Dip" by Charging A Second Fee when Their Customers Use Another Banks' ATM
Study Also Found Average Fee Up More Than 12% This Year Alone
Schumer, Consumers Union to Call on Fed To Investigate Abusive ATM Practices By Banks Focusing On Double Dipping
Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to address the growing problem of consumers being hit with two ATM fees every time they take out their own money during this holiday shopping season. Schumer said that ATM fees have jumped by almost 13% in the last year, even as consumer's wallets have been hit from all directions. What's worse is that 72% of banks charge their customers every time they use another bank's ATM - in addition to whatever fees are being charged by the ATM itself. Today, Schumer, joined by representatives from the Consumers Union, called on the Fed and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to regulate this pernicious practice of double dipping as part of their overall study of ATM fees.
"During a shopping season when consumers are strapped for cash and struggling to make ends meet, we need to bring some sanity back to ATM withdrawals," said Schumer. "They have already agreed to look at the overall problem of rising ATM fees, and today I'm calling on them to focus specifically on this double dipping practice so no one is forced to pay $4 when they are trying to withdraw $20 of their own money."
"In these tough economic times, consumers shouldn't be paying twice to use the ATM only once," said Chris Meyer, Vice President for External Affairs and Advocacy for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. "The practice of charging consumers twice for foreign ATM withdrawals has become extremely pervasive, and it is taking a larger and larger bite out of consumers' wallets. We applaud Sen. Schumer's efforts to get federal bank regulators to investigate and crack down on these unfair surcharges. High ATM fees are especially burdensome for low and moderateincome customers, who earn less and tend to withdraw smaller amounts than other consumers," Meyer said. "The Federal Reserve and the OCC should develop fair guidelines that allow banks to recover their reasonable costs, but that will protect the consumer interest in affordable banking services and a competitive marketplace."
According to an independent study released on September 30, a whopping 72 percent of banks charge their own customers a fee (averaging $1.32 per transaction) when they take out money from another bank's ATM. This is in addition to the fee that consumers pay the owner of the ATM for the withdrawal. Furthermore, the study, performed by Bankrate.com, showed that the average fee banks charge noncustomers rose 12.6 percent in the last year to $2.22.
Schumer called this a "doublewhammy" on consumers and said it demanded the attention of federal regulators immediately.
Last Thursday, at a Senate Banking hearing, Senator Schumer secured a pledge by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to conduct a review of the major rise in ATM fees imposed by banks on customers who are simply trying to withdraw their own money. In the wake of this commitment, Schumer today urged the Fed and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to address the problem of double whammy ATM fees.
Many Americans turn to ATM's for the convenience of 24 hour access to their money, but as banks continue to slam customers with outrageous fees, the costs of that convenience are outweighing the benefits. In order to protect the consumer from these excessive fees, rules should be implemented to protect consumers from banks' double dipping practices.
"In today's economy, every penny counts and charging individuals sky high fees for accessing their own money is simply unreasonable," said Schumer. "The Fed and the OCC need to take action now by reviewing the rise in ATM fees and establish guidelines that will prevent banks from charging consumers twice for ATM withdrawals."
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks. It also supervises the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks. The agency issues rules, legal interpretations, and corporate decisions concerning banking, bank investments, bank community development activities, and other aspects of bank operations.
Schumer has led the fight against abusive practices by credit card companies and banks. Earlier this year, Schumer led the call for the Fed to reform overdraft fees imposed by banks when customers make purchases that exceed their remaining balance. Schumer also wrote the section of this year's major credit card reform law that reined in abusive gift card practices.
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