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By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer
BOSTON – Mass. Secretary of State William F. Galvin has criticized Bank of America’s plan to impose monthly fees on basic checking accounts unless customers maintain a minimum balance or buy other bank services.
Galvin, who has supervision of 13 of the state’s Registries of Deeds, noted that those registries will, following a bidding process, be moving their funds from Bank of America to Citizens Bank as of April 1.
“I am filing legislation that will bar banks from holding state deposits if they do not offer such customers basic checking account without fee,” he said. “These reported fees constitute a burden on many bank customers, in particular the elderly and the young, especially in these days when banks offer little or no interest on deposits.”
As a legislator Galvin sponsored a law, still in effect, that exempts persons under 18 and over 65 from bank fees at state-chartered banks. The bill he is filing would apply to all banks in the commonwealth.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Bank of America has a pilot program in Massachusetts that charges fees of $6 to $9 a month on an “essentials” account. Other plans have
charges as high as $25 a month, but waive the fee if customers maintain minimum balances, take
out a mortgage, or use a bank credit card.
Last year, Bank of America had to rescind plans for a $5 debit card fee that sparked widespread outrage across the country.