BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Electronic Fund Transfer Act Amendment
Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
First of all, let me say that this is very much bipartisan legislation in that it has been sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans. I am very, very pleased to have as an original cosponsor on this and to have worked very closely with Mr. Luetkemeyer, who has done an admirable job in providing leadership on a much, much needed piece of legislation, which is H.R. 4367. As I said, I am proud to be an integral part of moving forward a very timely, reasonable, and vital piece of legislation.
Let me just say at the outset, Mr. Speaker, that our banking system, our retail system, our credit unions all sit at the center--at the epicenter--of this Nation's great economic system, which is facing tremendous challenges. As Mr. Luetkemeyer said, we are faced with people who are basically scam artists, those who will go in and remove the labeling off the ATM machines, knowing that the penalty is upwards of one half a million dollars, and then will try to bring class action lawsuits against these financial institutions in very tough economic times. So this legislation has been developed to address this and to fix this so that our banking industry and our financial services industry will not have this threat over them.
What it would do is repeal the requirement for both a physical placard as well as an electronic notice disclosing the transaction fees on the ATM screens. Currently, as it works now, if an ATM machine does not display a physical placard, a financial institution--a bank, a credit union or our retailers--can be subject to a class action lawsuit, which would potentially amount to, as I said, one half a million dollars, or 1 percent of its net worth. This penalty has the potential of prompting bogus lawsuits against financial institutions simply due to a lack of the physical placard, even when the electronic notice is shown to a customer, perhaps because the placard was removed by a third party. So you can see that this is not fair for these institutions to be faced with up to a half million dollars in penalty fees, especially in these tough economic times. At the same time, many of these institutions continue to struggle to maintain standard operations while being faced with our current economic climate.
Mr. Speaker, let me just talk about that for a moment because there have been 31 bank failures in this country this year alone. About 3 weeks ago, three banks shut their doors, including the Security Exchange Bank in Marietta, Cobb County, Georgia, which is located in my district. As a matter of fact, in Georgia alone, 78 banks have closed their doors since our crisis began.
Georgia leads the Nation, unfortunately, in bank closures. That's why I am so particularly concerned about it and so pleased to have this measure pass, because this sensible legislation that we consider today would remove the threat of legal action against financial institutions--a bank or a credit union--simply for the lack of the physical placard at one of its ATM machines.
Passage of this bill, as Mr. Luetkemeyer pointed out, will still provide the consumer with the protections that they need because a notice informing them of any fees will still be required upon the start of a transaction on the ATM screen. In addition, consumers will still be able to benefit from the convenience that the estimated 445,000 ATMs in operation in this country provide.
I'm very proud to have worked on this bill. It's very timely. It's very important for our economy that we move with this bill. The bill certainly deserves the strong bipartisan support that we have, and it's been a pleasure to work with Mr. Luetkemeyer on it. I urge my colleagues to support this measure today.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
BREAK IN TRANSRCRIPT
Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, in closing I certainly would just like to say how important this legislation is.
As the chairman of our Financial Services Committee, Chairman Bachus, just stated, these are sophisticated individuals. These are people who know the system. That's why I refer to them as scam artists.
This is a racket, and it's a racket that we need to put out of business that's causing tremendous headaches, tremendous difficulties for the heart of our fine economic system, which is our banking system, our commercial system. This will go a long way in helping to take away a very superfluous but serious enough threat.
The other thing about this that's very fine is we hear a great cry among the American people for great bipartisanship. Here's a great example of Democrats and Republicans working together for the good of the United States of America.
Thank you very much for working with me on this, and I appreciate having an opportunity to work with you.
And since I have no other speakers, I yield back the balance of my time.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT