WASHINGTON — House Democrats introduced a bill Wednesday designed to address concerns about the fees banks charge consumers when a checking account is overdrawn.
The Overdraft Protection Act, co-sponsored by 46 lawmakers including the House Financial Services Committee's two top Democrats, Reps. Maxine Waters of California and Carolyn Maloney of New York, would codify a 2010 Federal Reserve Board rule requiring consumers to "opt in" for overdraft protection. It would also cap the number of fees institutions can charge an individual for overdrafts to one per month and six per year, and requires those fees to be "reasonable and proportional" to the amount of the overdraft.
In addition, the legislation would prohibit the ordering of debit charges from "high to low," a practice that has garnered numerous class action lawsuits, and directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to study the use of overdraft fees with prepaid cards and potentially extend the bill's provisions to those cards if needed.
"I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this critical legislation to protect consumers from calculated strategies by some financial institutions to generate unfair overdraft fees," Waters said in a press release. "The legislation introduced today is common-sense bill which all Members of Congress should embrace. It is in the best tradition of true consumer protection. I ask my Republican colleagues to join our efforts and to move quickly to pass this legislation so consumers can be assured of fair treatment."