The Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project applauds Chase, North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union, and Pentagon Federal Credit Union for voluntarily adopting Pew's model checking account disclosure form. The short and concise summary document was created to help financial institutions provide account terms and fees in a consumer-friendly format.
“Far too often essential checking account information is buried in more than 100 pages of disclosure documents. This can present a challenge to even the most financially savvy customers who are looking for new accounts or to responsibly manage the ones they currently have,” said Susan Weinstock, director of Pew's Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project. “Account holders need an easy-to-read disclosure document so they can be aware of the terms, conditions, and fees associated with their checking services.”
Important policies and fee information are often hidden in long, highly technical banking literature, according to Pew's research of more than 250 checking accounts offered online by the nation's 10 largest banks. The median length of disclosure documents is 111 pages and includes account agreements, addendums, fee schedules, and pages on the banks' Web sites.
“We are pleased to be the first large bank to adopt Pew's simple disclosure form,” said Ryan McInerney, CEO of Chase's Consumer Bank. “We set out to be as clear and concise as possible. This is another important step we're taking to improve how we serve customers across Chase.”
“Our nearly two million members now enjoy the benefit of using checking accounts whose terms and conditions are clearly and concisely disclosed,” said Jim Blaine, CEO of North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union. “Upfront fee information empowers consumers to make educated financial decisions for themselves and their families.”
“Often times, hidden fees drive people out of the banking system,” said Frank Pollack, President and CEO of Pentagon Federal Credit Union. “Our more than one million members, many of whom are serving in the Armed Forces, now have the benefit of our disclosure document that fully lists our fees when they open their accounts. Our members can bank without the fear of being charged unexpected fees.”
A standardized form, such as Pew's model disclosure box, will enable consumers to have the information needed to comparison shop and determine the checking accounts that best meet their needs. Such a form would also encourage all financial institutions to compete based on clear information about the key fees, terms, and conditions of the checking accounts they offer.
“Chase, North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union, and Pentagon Federal Credit Union are at the forefront of providing consumers with simple disclosure forms that fully explain their fees and terms,” Weinstock said. “We are encouraging other financial institutions to do the same and for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to require them to provide checking account holders with a simple disclosure form, similar to what is required for credit cards.”
Recently, the Consumer Bankers Association released a statement saying it would work with the CFPB to streamline and simplify checking account disclosures.