Current disclosure rules do more than enough to protect holders of open-end, home equity lines of credit, bank trade group officials said.
The government should instead focus on making information required under Truth-in-Lending more understandable for customers.
"They overprotect consumers," said Robert Rowe, regulatory counsel at the Independent Bankers Association of America. "One comment that I consistently hear from bankers ... is that the disclosures are so extensive that customers just get buried. They don't even realize what's in there. They just get lost in a sea of disclosures."
The Federal Reserve Board on Jan. 29 asked the industry and the public whether current Truth-in-Lending rules covering open-end, home equity credit lines require adequate disclosures, or if changes should be made to further protect consumers. Comments are due by April 1.
The 1994 Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act amendments to the Truth-in-Lending Act added new disclosures on closed-end home equity loans. But Obrea Poindexter, staff attorney in the Fed's division of consumer and community affairs, said congressional hearings - held during the crafting of amendments on home equity lending practices - revealed little evidence of abusive practices in the market.
Now the Fed is trying to determine if that is still the case.
Under the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994, the Fed is required to conduct a one-time study of the rules' effectiveness. It must then report the results to Congress, which should happen in early fall.
Several trade group officials said they don't expect the agency to add new disclosures covering the open-end loans. But most agreed that some revisions needed to be made.
Janice Shields, research analyst at the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, said the current disclosures can be convoluted and confusing, but are still necessary in some form.
"Something should be done to perhaps make them clearer," Ms. Shields said. "But they should not be removed."
Under current rules, creditors must disclose a loan's payment terms, including explanations of how the minimum periodic payment will be determined and how those payments are timed, and an example based on a $10,000 outstanding balance and a recent annual percentage rate.
Also, consumers must be told: the APR; fees imposed by the creditor and third parties; a statement that an increase in the remaining loan balance - or negative amortization - may occur and that a consumer's equity in a home may decrease as a result; and several other statements, including one stating that consumers could lose their home in the event of default.