Oct 12, 2023 | Blogs

White House Announces Bold Initiatives to Tackle “Junk” Fees: A Win for Consumer Protection

The White House has unveiled initiatives to combat surcharges and “junk” fees, relieving the financial burden on hardworking Americans. In collaboration with consumer protection agencies, these actions aim to enhance transparency and fairness in various sectors, reflecting the Biden administration’s commitment to consumer welfare and industry competition.

Director Lael Brainard of the National Economic Council stressed that these fees disproportionately affect working individuals and families struggling to make ends meet. The initiatives intend to help them keep more of their money and regain financial control.

Key figures in this endeavor include President Joe Biden, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra. They will introduce policies to eliminate junk fees, empowering consumers and ensuring transparent and fair business practices.

The FTC’s rule proposal targets the deceptive practice of burying fees within transactions. Under this proposal, businesses must present the amount and purpose of surcharges upfront, ensuring consumers have complete information. It is estimated that this initiative will save consumers over $10 billion over the next decade. Additionally, the FTC will have the authority to secure refunds for consumers if businesses violate these mandates.

The CFPB focuses on big banks, emphasizing consumer rights to access complete, accurate, and free account information, as established by a 2010 federal law. This means that when consumers request basic information about their accounts, big banks cannot charge excessive fees or trap them in endless customer service loops. This initiative promotes fair pricing for legitimate services and prevents junk fees for basic customer responsiveness.

Both the FTC and CFPB have already taken preliminary actions against junk fees. The FTC will consider a final rule after a 60-day comment period to ensure public input.

In summary, these White House initiatives signify a significant step in protecting consumers and promoting marketplace fairness. By addressing junk fees and increasing transparency, the administration aims to provide relief to hardworking Americans and encourage healthy industry competition. These actions underscore the administration’s commitment to economic justice and consumer protection.

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