Survey Finds Almost All State-Chartered Banks Follow Rules Offering No-Fee '18-65' Accounts, Opportunity for Better Promotion and Consumer Education Remains
Office of Consumer Affairs produces an informational brochure available online and at locations throughout the state
BOSTON - June 2, 2011 - A survey by the Patrick-Murray Administration's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation found that over 90 percent of state-chartered bank branches checked comply with rules for disclosing no-fee accounts for teens and seniors, and room exists for better promotion and consumer education of the accounts.
In an effort to better promote the accounts, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Division of Banks have produced a brochure detailing the 18-65 accounts. OCA and DOB will work with banking and community organizations to make these brochures available around the state, and the brochure is available online .
According to the so-called "18-65" state law, state-chartered banks must offer "18-65" accounts to customers 18 years old and younger, and 65 years old and older. Also, notice of those accounts must be publicly displayed in bank branches.
The Office of Consumer Affairs visited 54 state-chartered banks around the state, and found that 49 of them - 90.7 percent - appropriately display the required notice of the accounts. Banks are not required to post information on their websites, but an online review found 75 percent of websites include information about the free accounts. None of the banks surveyed had prominent advertisements about the 18-65 accounts posted in their branches.
"The 18-65 accounts are a great community service and our state-chartered banks do a good job fulfilling their responsibility to notify consumers of these accounts, but the opportunity is there for even more promotion and outreach," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Especially now, when larger national banks are imposing various fees for items that used to be free, eligible consumers need to be aware of this product from their local community bank in order to fully benefit from these no-fee accounts."
Banks are under no obligation to call the accounts available to qualified consumers "18-65" accounts. But state-chartered banks must offer to those meeting the age requirements accounts that come with no maintenance fees, no minimum balance, and no fees for checks, deposits or withdrawals. Banks can charge a fee for insufficient funds, set by the Division of Banks at $5.
For more information on 18-65 accounts, visit the Division of Banks website. The Division of Banks is part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog, Consumer Connections, and on Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.