Friday, April 20, 2012

H.R. 4367: Beauty in Simplicity

All too often the public only hears about 2,500 plus page laws (monstrosities if you will) coming from our Congress. Let’s round up the usual suspects: Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and year-ending omnibus spending bills. Bigger is not better when it comes to law making.

Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)
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I am more pleased then to offer thoughts on a bill recently introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri. Responding to a real need in the ATM industry, Rep. Luetkemeyer sponsored H.R. 4367 along with Rep. David Scott of Georgia. Weighing in at a sleek and sturdy one and half pages, H.R. 4367 proposes to streamline and update the Electronic Funds Transfer Act’s requirement that an ATM operator provide a consumer two fee notices (one on the screen and one on the physical ATM) before a balance inquiry or cash withdrawal.

David Scott (D-GA)
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Years ago, the dual fee notification requirement was an important consumer protection measure because some screens on older ATMs could not deliver a robust notice. Current ATM screens now offer the consumer a very robust fee notice (thank you Triple Des, ADA audio requirements and good, old investments by the ATM industry). Unfortunately for the industry, some unscrupulous characters have started a national trend of defacing the ATM’s physical fee notice placard, hiring trial lawyers to accuse ATM operators of non-compliance with the EFTA and demanding cash settlements.

The Electronic Funds Transfer Association and the ATM Industry Association last year began to reach out to Capitol Hill on the problems with these lawsuits and the need to update the EFTA’s dual fee notification requirement. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also involved. The Bureau asked for public comment on whether the dual fee notification requirement ought to be changed. Of the more than 100 comments letters filed, a strong majority supported the dual fee notification elimination. The American Bankers Association, American Gaming Association, Credit Union National Association, Independent Community Bankers Association, National Association of Federal Credit Unions and the National Association of Convenience Stores are also working hard to eliminate the dual fee notification requirement.

Reps. Luetkemeyer and Scott deserve much credit for offering a simple solution to an important problem. H.R. 4367 fully protects consumers and it’s in the spirit of updating and streamlining an old regulation. It deserves broad support.


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