WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A top U.S. Senate Democrat said Monday Bank of America Corp. is "sticking it to American consumers" with a $5-per-month fee on most of its debit card accounts.
BofA announced the fee last month, calling it an effort to recoup revenue lost with new rules limiting swipe fees -- charges banks levy against retailers when retail customers use debit cards.
Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, assistant majority leader, said executives at BofA "and other banks ... have to decide what their priority is going to be. Will it be their customers? Or will it be the most profits they can squeeze out of those customers?
"I think it's obvious what Bank of America's priority is."
Durbin accused BofA of "helping drive our economy to the cliff's edge in 2008," and then accepting a $45 billion taxpayer bailout through the TARP program."
"And it was just as happy to take that money and hand out $3.3 billion in employee bonuses in 2008. And don't forget the excellent track record Bank of America has with handling mortgages When it's not losing paperwork or refusing to answer the phone, it's foreclosing on American families right and left," he said.
"But at least this time, Bank of America is being transparent about a fee it is charging. As opposed to the overdraft fees, 'research' fees, swipe fees, and other hidden fees it has charged, this time Bank of America is being upfront about sticking it to American consumers."
Citing a study that BofA has 38.7 million debit cardholders, Durbin estimated the $5 dollar monthly fee will generate about $2.32 billion annually for the bank "on top of the over 300 percent per-transaction profit it will get from the Fed's swipe fee rates."
"This new fee is just another attempt by Bank of America to make even more pure profit off the backs of consumers," Durbin said.