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State Senator

Derek Slap

Representing West Hartford, Farmington, Burlington and Bloomfield

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Sen. Slap, Rep. Lopes Call For Suspension of Low Balance Banking Fees


WEST HARTFORD – Acting on the suggestion of a constituent, state Senator Derek Slap (D-West Hartford) and state Representative Rick Lopes (D-New Britain) have asked the Lamont administration to work with Connecticut’s banking industry to suspend minimum or low balance fees and assess what other banking fees can be reduced to help Connecticut residents affected by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

“The COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc on the state and national economies. Connecticut has seen a year’s worth of unemployment claims in just the past few weeks, and they’re running five weeks behind writing checks. It’s completely understandable that some people might be draining their checking and savings accounts just to get by, and they really shouldn’t be hit with low balance fees because they’re in desperate straits,” Sen. Slap said. “So many Connecticut industries have come together for the sake of our residents; I think this is an issue that Connecticut banks can help with on a temporary basis until we get over this hump of unemployment and people can get back to making a living.”

“During this time of economic uncertainty, I am hoping that banks will consider not charging fees on accounts with low balances,” said Rep. Lopes, who is House Chair of the legislature’s Banking Committee. “This step will be necessary until unemployment benefits and stimulus checks catch up to the spike in demand.”

Last week, Sen. Slap received an email from a West Hartford resident stating that for the first time ever he had been charged a low balance fee by a Connecticut-based bank because his checking account balance fell below $1,000 – after he wrote a check to a local charity.

“In this time of great financial stress, folks are struggling, dipping into savings. Please advise on what we can do to get these banks to suspend low balance fees,” the constituent wrote.

Sen. Slap and Rep. Lopes note that national banks and Connecticut’s banking industry have already aided consumers in a variety of ways: for instance, 50 Connecticut banks and credit unions are working with Gov. Lamont to offer a 90-day grace period for all mortgage payments: waiving or refunding mortgage-related late fees and other fees, including early CD withdrawals; they won’t start any foreclosure sales or eviction; and late or missed payments will not be shared with credit reporting agencies.

Sen. Slap and state Rep. Lopes have also reached out to the Connecticut Bankers Association with this idea.

The legislators note that the issue of access to personal savings is a national one, and that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has created a Frequently Asked Questions web site to address common consumer concerns, such as ATM fees and withdrawing money from Certificates of Deposit.

The site can be accessed at: https://www.fdic.gov/coronavirus/faq-customer.pdf


 

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