Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back to Work on Debit Card Rules

We've been discussing for some time on the issue of debit card overdrafts (See Big Banks Alter Debit Overcharge Rules , New York Times Takes on Overdraft and How Your $4 Cup of Coffee Can Cost $34 or More), with no success on the rulemaking front. The Federal Reserve has announced, though, that rules are close to completion and will be in the form of an opt-in option for consumers (See WSJ, Fed is Near New Fee Rules). Governor Tarullo of the Fed testified last week before the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Institutions, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs that the rules are near completion.

Although the Fed seems poised to finally move on debit cards, Congress appears to lack faith in the ability of the Fed to get this one done. While the Fed has lingered in its rulemaking, the Center for Responsible Lending reports that overdraft fees have increased 35% in the last two years alone. Senator Chris Dodd is leading the charge for Congressional intervention on debit cards. While rulemaking has been long coming, the pressure by Congress seems to also draw attention to the Fed's inability at times to protect consumer interests as part of its core mission. The situation of debit cards is but another example of why the Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a good idea (See Debate Heating Up). This may well be enough to spur the Fed to finishing up the debit card rules. Here's a piece on the proposed legislation.


No comments: