The District of Columbia's Office of Banking and Financial Institutions is preparing legislation that would require check cashers here to be licensed.

"We receive calls frequently from District residents who have had unfortunate experiences with unscrupulous check cashers," said J. Anthony Romero 3d, Washington's banking superintendent. "Fees as high as 20% of the face value of a check are not uncommon."

The legislation, which is expected to be introduced next week, would set maximum fees chargeable by check cashers.

Steven Burningham, vice president of the National Check Cashers Association, said the bill would improve the somewhat tarnished image of his industry.

"We're excited about this because it will get rid of those people that charge outrageous fees," said Mr. Burningham, who is also chief executive of Any Kind Check Cashing Centers, which operates three locations in Washington, D.C. "This will allow the consumer to make an informed decision."

Thirteen states currently require check cashers to be licensed, and legislation is pending at eight others to do the same.

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