September 21, 2021

Bucks Blog: Banks Lag on Consumer-Friendly Checking Practices

Two of the country’s largest banks scored well on a ranking of the consumer-friendliness of their checking accounts, but no bank met all of the recommended criteria, a new analysis found.

The report, from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Safe Checking in the Electronic Age project, assessed 36 of the country’s largest 50 banks, ranked by deposits, on their policies for clear disclosure of terms and fees; overdrafts; and dispute resolution. (Fourteen of the country’s 50 largest banks were not included because they didn’t offer a way for consumers to learn about their policies without visiting a bank branch).

Pew defines “best” practices as those that are most effective in giving account holders clear, concise information about costs and terms; reducing the number of overdrafts, and eliminating practices — like transaction re-ordering – -that maximize overdraft fees; and providing a meaningful alternative to mandatory binding arbitration for consumers to solve problems with their bank.

The report identified seven “best” practices and 11 “good” practices. For instance, Pew’s “best” practice for disclosures is the adoption of a simple “summary box” or a page that lays out the basic terms and fees associated with the account in simple language. Eight banks meet this criteria, Pew found. (Pew has worked with banks to help them design the simplified disclosures).

The top-ranked bank overall was Ally Bank, an online-only bank that met six of the seven “best” practices identified by Pew, and nine of 11 “good” practices.”

Two of the biggest banks, Citibank and Bank of America, ranked in the top five over all, with five “best” practices each. [Read more…]

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Letters: Letters: Medical Records Need to Be Portable, Too

Re “Digitizing Health Records, Before It Was Cool” (Jan. 15), which described one company’s role in supplying electronic medical health records:

The article noted that companies’ varying platforms for these records “have raised concerns about usability, especially when different systems must share information” and that some people “wonder if the government should play a bigger role in creating uniform technical standards and designs.”

I am a practicing physician in a 12-provider private practice. My group has adopted an electronic platform from one company, while each of our two local health systems has a different one. We are linked to receive electronic information from one system, but the other does not provide it to us. We cannot send information to either.

Part of the 2009 federal stimulus package was meant to encourage and promote wider adoption of electronic records. Health systems and vendors should include portability with all providers in their systems in order to receive the stimulus.

Marvin H. Kamras, M.D.

Washington, Jan. 15

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Economix: Unemployment’s Rising Toll on Families

Last year, nearly one in eight families included an unemployed person, the highest proportion since the Labor Department began keeping track in 1994.


Of all families, 12.4 percent included an unemployed person, up from 12 percent in 2009, the department observed in a recent report. (Since this data set goes back to only 1994, though, we can’t compare how this trend compares to the last major recession, in the early 1980s, when unemployment was generally more widespread throughout the population. As my colleague David Leonhardt has noted, other measures have shown unemployment in this recession  to be unusually concentrated within a small group of workers.)

The report also included updates on how the labor market is affecting family dynamics and gender roles.

We’ve noted in the past, for example, that the recession was causing more women to serve as their families’ sole breadwinners. That trend continued last year: Of all families — that is, “a group of two or more persons residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption” — 14.2 percent had only a female adult member (the wife or single mother) employed. That’s up from 14 percent in 2009.

The trend may be reversing now, though. During the recession, men disproportionately bore the brunt of job losses; in the feeble recovery, men have disproportionately claimed job gains. As a result, in the last year the share of men with jobs has risen and the share of women with jobs has fallen. In fact, the portion of women working declined to 53.2 percent in February, the lowest share since 1988.

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