Press Release

RBS Citizens Financial Group and Sovereign Bank Adopt Pew's Simple Overview of Checking Account Terms and Fees

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Pew Also Recognizes Cascade Community Federal Credit Union and First Tennessee Bank for Improving Disclosure Transparency

RBS Citizens Financial Group, parent company of Charter One and Citizens Bank, along with Sovereign Bank have joined a growing list of more than 20 financial institutions voluntarily adopting The Pew Charitable Trusts' short and concise disclosure box for checking accounts. Developed by Pew as a model for banks and credit unions to implement, this consumer-friendly format is now available for more than 41 percent of U.S. deposit volume.

Cascade Community Federal Credit Union and First Tennessee Bank also recently introduced Pew's simple summary for their customers.

“Too often, the terms, fees, and conditions of consumer checking accounts are hard to find, exposing customers to high, unexpected costs,” said Susan Weinstock, director of Pew's safe checking research. “We applaud the banks that provide their checking account holders with critical information in a clear format that will make important terms easier for current and future consumers to understand.”

Until recently, most financial institutions failed to summarize key information in a user-friendly layout. Pew research shows that among the nation's 12 largest banks, disclosure documents had a median length of 69 pages, making it challenging for consumers to know the elements of their account fees, which can be costly, such as overdraft options and costs. Pew's standardized model disclosure box allows customers to comparison shop and determine which checking account best meets their needs.

Pew urges the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to enact the following reforms and require all financial institutions to:

  • Summarize information about checking account terms and fees in a concise, uniform format.
  • Provide account holders with clear, comprehensive terms and pricing information for all available overdraft options.
  • Make overdraft penalty fees reasonable and proportional to the financial institution's costs in providing the overdraft loan.
  • Post deposits and withdrawals in a fully disclosed, objective, and neutral manner that does not maximize overdraft fees.

A number of institutions have voluntarily adopted Pew's model disclosure: Bank of America, BB&T, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Eastman Credit Union, Fifth Third Bank, Inland Bank, Navy Federal Credit UnionNorth Carolina State Employees' Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union Suncoast Schools Federal Credit UnionSunTrust, TD Bank, Town and Country Bank, University of Illinois Employees Credit Union, UW Credit Union, Webster Bank, and Wells Fargo.

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