Magazine article American Banker

Banks Fail to Meet New York Law for Offering Basic Accounts: Comptroller

Magazine article American Banker

Banks Fail to Meet New York Law for Offering Basic Accounts: Comptroller

Article excerpt

Byline: Jacob Passy

Almost two-dozen banks in New York City do not appear to offer or widely advertised basic checking accounts, although state law requires it, the New York City Comptroller said Friday.

That was one of several findings in a Friday report that showed New York consumers have trouble finding affordable options for bank accounts. Along with the report, Comptroller Scott Stringer's office released a website designed to help consumers find banks to meet their needs, such as online bill payment or foreign-language service. The site is takeittothebank.nyc.

New York state law requires banks to offer so-called "lifeline" accounts. Banks must allow consumers to open accounts with no more than $25 for the initial deposit; monthly maintenance fees must be capped at $3; and consumers must be allowed to conduct at least eight free monthly withdrawals and unlimited deposits.

Stringer's office conducted a survey that found 22 banks could not provide information on a product meeting all these requirements; the report cautioned that the banks could have missed meeting only one of the requirements. Stringer's office said that it will follow up with all 22 banks.

"All New Yorkers need a safe and affordable place to keep their money," Stringer said in a news release.

Moreover, many banks make it difficult for consumers to determine their options for opening an account.

"New Yorkers trying to open their first checking account face a bewildering array of options," Stringer said. …

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