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Monday, August 13, 2012

Citibank Joins the Simpler Checking-Disclosure Club


Citibank is the latest big bank to offer a slimmed-down, plain language disclosure for its checking account customers.

The bank joins other big institutions, including Chase and TD Bank, and a growing number of credit unions in adopting shorter, simplified disclosures, to help customers easily see the crucial fees and policies associated with an account.

Citi is now using a two-page form that outlines fees for its various checking accounts, including the amounts assessed for covering overdrafts. The document also explains how deposits and withdrawals are processed, and when deposits become available.

“There's only one thing you need to help manage fees,” the document's heading says. “The Facts.”

Citi adopted the form as part of a “plain talk” initiative, which aims to provide customers “with the facts they need to make informed decisions when opening an account or considering changes to their ban king relationship,” said Stephen Troutner, Citi's head of branch network and banking products for its domestic consumer banking, in a statement.

Citi, Chase and the other banks developed their new forms in cooperation with the Pew Safe Checking in the Electronic Age project, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which promotes simplified disclosures. A recent Pew analysis found the median length of a checking-account disclosure is 69 pages-down from 111 pages a year earlier, but still quite lengthy.

Pew had originally proposed that banks adopt a single-page document, but few banks have been able to shrink their verbiage enough to meet that goal.