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This opinion was issued in the third quarter of 1998.
Research fees which relate to deposit accounts of a bank's customers may not be assessed unless information about these fees is included in the Truth-In-Savings disclosures provided when the deposit account is opened, as required by Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 140E. The charging of fees for researching late charges and account payment histories, for a customer's loan accounts, is not prohibited by any statute or regulation in the Commonwealth. The Division cautions banks wishing to charge these fees that such research fees should be reasonable in relation to the services performed. Since these fees are not part of the original mortgage loan contract, they are not required to be disclosed under the truth-in-lending disclosures related to the loan. As to fees for researching and reproducing 1099 forms which previously have been sent to the customer, banks should seek guidance from the Internal Revenue Service, the federal agency which requires banks to provide said 1099 forms to its customers.
The Commonwealth has no general record-keeping requirement which banks in the state must follow for retaining mortgage payment histories.