Senators Take On Bank Account Fine PrintHave you ever really read all the disclosures that came with your bank account? Nope -- we haven't either. And that should come as no surprise: The average length of banks' fee disclosures and checking account policy paperwork is 111 pages, according to a survey by Pew Charitable Trusts.

That's way too much fine print, say Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.). Last week, the two called on all banks to make those disclosures just one page long.

They offered as an example a one-page disclosure that Pew designed. On Monday, Durbin pressed banks in Illinois to adopt the new disclosure box.

"Consumers have demonstrated that they will no longer stay with banks and credit unions that disrespect them by failing to charge fees in an upfront and fair manner," Durbin wrote in a letter to the financial institutions, reported The Hill.

The cost of not reading and understanding those disclosures adds up to big costs for bank customers. A 2009 study of 917 consumers found that households paid a median of $43 a month in credit card and checking account fees, including credit card interest, ATM and overdraft fees.

"People are unhappy with fees, but where are they going to go?" says Susan Weinstock, director of Pew's Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project. "They [could] end up worse off because they won't read 111 pages of disclosure [for a checking account]."

The new proposed disclosure format outlines all the basic checking account terms and conditions -- including interest rates, ATM fees, overdraft penalties and account closing fees -- in clear terms, using a uniform reporting style across all financial institutions.

The senators also asked the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to lend a hand on enforcement, and require banks and credit unions to post this disclosure on their websites, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Two large credit unions are already on board -- the Pentagon Federal Credit Union and North Carolina State Employees Credit Union -- the Washington Times reported. The Consumer Bankers Association is also supporting fee disclosure simplification.

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Ed Loomis

Let me get this straight...someone from the government, the same government that passes thousands and thousands of pages of requirements, mandates, rules and regulations for banks to follow expects banks to make their disclosures on one page? Most of the paperwork is REQUIRED by the government or the FDIC. Do you really think the banks like having over 100 pages of disclosures? Change the rules so the one page gets the job done and banks will be turning back flips. That is what the banks have been begging for for years!

Credit Unions always get a free pass on regs. They don't pay taxes yet anyone can join a credit union now....anyone, anywhere. Does that make sense? People act like they are little clubs, but all their ads say they offer banking services to anyone. Go figure.

November 10 2011 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is some more crap that is being fed to the readers. Do you really thing the banks and the govenemnt are at odds at any time. They work together to rip us off. They make more money, they make more profits then they pay more taxes, govenment gets their piece. Its much easier for the govenment to get money from a bank than it is to get money from us.

November 10 2011 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Then why is the Income Tax Code, Obama Care Plan so lengthy? Can we not get something like 9-9-9?

November 09 2011 at 5:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cray542464's comment

If we elect Cain.

November 09 2011 at 8:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Read anything you sign, folks. Those of you lucky enough to have a job, did you read what you were signing when you started your job? Same thing with bank accounts, etc. Read everything! Take responsibility! If you don't understand something, don't sign!

I've had numerous bank accounts over the years. I've never seen documentation/rules and regulations/etc., that were more than 4 pages that I was required to sign. I have no idea where this 111-page document is, and who has it, etc. There could be lengthy documentations about laws and regulations between banks and the government, but I know that I've never seen/been mailed/asked to sign anything at any bank that was more than a few pages long.

If you can't read/don't understand documents, then for goodness sakes find a local adult education class and learn! And if you don't like the terms, don't sign, find another bank/credit union. There are lots of choices!

November 09 2011 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Germany's Merkel just came out begging Obama and Geithner to drastically up our dollars to the IMF so that America can bail out European countries the same way we bailed out the banks through AIG, One penny to the IMF for Europe will be the end of Obama.

November 09 2011 at 10:09 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
John M

Bank of America takes great pride in cheating people. They feel smart cheating, lying and stealing money from the poor people who can't afford an attorney to establish justice. Stay away from this evil bank.

November 09 2011 at 9:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The bonds blew out in Italy today with the 10 year now at 7.47%. Socialism just killed Greece, will kill Italy this week with Spain and France to be thrown on the historical trash heap of failed socialism before year end. Once interest rates start to rise in the USA, which will be very soon, we are doomed as well.Socialist governments making promises they can never keep to their citizens to buy votes. will just kill you every time. !5 trillion in debt is in track for 23 trillion in 10 years for the 50% of Americans that pay income taxes and pay off the debt..

The the 47% of Americans that are socialists posing as liberal, progressive, democrats just don't care what happens since they don't' pay taxes nor do they pay off the debt. They just want what is not due them. Well, the gravy train is over they broke the bank and the rest of us won't carry the fright any longer.

Merry Christmas is all you get because I'm not buying you anything this year.

November 09 2011 at 9:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Let someone else do the reading for you. Americans are such idiots. This Country is doomed.

November 09 2011 at 7:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds great but until Congress limits legal exposure to simplified disclosures this will simply not happen. Remember that disclosures were created to inform consumers of all known risks. In this litigous society you can not have simplicty without unacceptable litigation risk.

November 08 2011 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why can't they read a bill before they pass it?

November 08 2011 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply