WASHINGTON, June 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T), the ninth largest bank by deposit volume in the United States, voluntarily adopted The Pew Charitable Trusts' disclosure summary for checking accounts today, bringing the total number of large banks that now use this easy tool to eight. This consumer-friendly format, designed to serve as a "nutrition label" for checking accounts, is now available to over 39 percent of the U.S. market by deposit volume.
"For too long, consumers had to dig through reams of complicated legal documents in order to find basic information on the fees and policies of their checking account," said Susan Weinstock, director of Pew's safe checking in the electronic age project. "Now more consumers can find the essential information they need to make the best banking choice. We encourage other banks to follow suit."
Pew's latest research, Checks and Balances: Measuring Checking Accounts' Safety and Transparency, finds that too many financial institutions do not make key information, such as overdraft options and fees, understandable or easy to find. This issue is exacerbated by the length of the disclosure documents, which have a median length of 69 pages. By summarizing long, complex disclosure documents into a shorter, standardized form, Pew's model disclosure box serves as a tool for consumers to compare different types of accounts and banks.
"We are committed to being transparent and fostering a more educated consumer, which encourages customers to make smarter financial decisions," said BB&T's Deposit Services manager Donna Goodrich. "'At A Glance,' our disclosure box, is a clear, concise resource designed to help consumers thoroughly understand and compare the deposit products we offer, avoid fees and compare BB&T's products to others in the market."
Pew urges the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to respond to the almost 1,000 complaints they receive per month about checking accounts by enacting reforms that require financial institutions to:
- summarize key information about terms and fees in a concise, uniform format;
- provide accountholders 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, neutral manger that does not maximize overdraft fees; and
- prohibit predispute mandatory binding arbitration clauses in checking account agreements, which prevent accountholders from accessing courts to challenge unfair and deceptive practices or other legal violations.
Bank of America, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Eastman Credit Union, Fifth Third Bank, Inland Bank, North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union SunTrust, TD Bank, Town and Country Bank, University of Illinois Employees Credit Union, UW Credit Union, Webster Bank, and Wells Fargo have all voluntarily adopted Pew's model disclosure.
The Pew Charitable Trusts is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public, and stimulate civic life.
SOURCE The Pew Charitable Trusts