Clinton Visits CU To Announce Legislation

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Sen. Hillary Clinton held a press conference at Lower East Side Peoples FCU (LESPFCU) to announce legislation aimed at protecting people who wire money to their native countries from outrageous hidden fees and charges.

Together with consumer advocates, representatives from New York credit unions and community groups, the senator announced her co-sponsorship of two bills-the International Remittances Services Enhancement and Protection Act (S.1359) and the Money Wire Act (S.1344).

Among those on hand was New York State Credit Union League (NYSCUL) President/CEO William J. Mellin. "We are grateful to Sen. Clinton for supporting these bills and calling for an end to the hidden fees faced by hard working immigrant families who send money to their native counties," he said.

The goal of the bills is to foster transparency in the money transfer business by requiring full disclosure of the fees and exchange rates money transmitters charge and will open up the remittance market to credit unions.

During the press conference, Clinton pointed out that most immigrants send home an average of $200 per month in spite of earnings that generally run below $25,000 per year. According to the Inter-American Dialogue, of the $25 billion in remittances sent from immigrants in the United States to family members in the Latin American and Caribbean region last year, nearly $4 billion was eaten up by fees and other transaction costs.

The New York league reported that in New York State, 20.4% of the state's residents are foreign born. In New York City alone, 36% of residents are immigrants. "Because of poor regulation of money wire services and ad hoc standards; many are at risk of getting ripped off by unforeseen fees or unfair exchange rates," said the league, which last year began offering free training sessions on IRnet, the International Remittance Network of WOCCU.

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