Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gillibrand: Stop bank fees for paper statements

While the U.S. Senate continues to draft legislation aimed at protecting taxpayers from banks and lenders, New York’s junior Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is looking to protect North Country families from bank fees.

In a statement released by Gillibrand’s office, the Democratic senator notes that many banks nationwide are introducing fees for customers who don’t switch to paperless, electronic billing.

Gillibrand says this punishes approximately two millions New York households that don’t have access to the internet.

In the North Country alone, an estimated 60,000 households aren’t hooked up to the web.

“Thousands of seniors and families in this area do not have adequate access to the internet,” Gillibrand said. “Thousands more are simply not comfortable reviewing their finances electronically.”

She adds New Yorkers shouldn’t be punished for wanting to receive bank statements in the mail.

“My legislation will make sure that financial institutions cannot take advantage of seniors or struggling families by imposing more fees,” Gillibrand said.

The amendment to the financial regulatory reform bill would empower the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to – quote – “crack down on banks that charge consumers fees for accessing paper statements.”

Gillibrand says the fees are particularly harmful to seniors with limited computer literacy, North Country residents with limited internet access, and low-income individuals who are often forced to pay to receive copies of their financial information.

In Essex and Franklin counties, an estimated 11,000 households lack internet access.

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