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House Panel OKs ATM Measure

March 11, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House Banking Committee has overwhelmingly approved a measure that would require ATM surcharges to be disclosed clearly at teller machines.

The panel voted 48-1 on Wednesday to attach the measure to larger legislation it is drafting to remove Depression-era barriers between banks, securities firms and insurance companies.

On another front, a consumer activist criticized a closed-door meeting Tuesday between Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and lobbyists from the three industries. Gramm discussed with the industry representatives how they could lobby senators on his version of a financial overhaul bill.

``It’s too bad he doesn’t call us in, to get the consumer perspective across to him,″ said Mary Griffin, insurance counsel for Consumers Union.

The ATM surcharge measure would require clear disclosure of the surcharges, which come on top of charges by customers’ own banks for using a machine operated by another bank. The double charges would have to be posted on the ATMs and on the terminal screen after consumers log in. Consumers would have to be given the chance to terminate their transaction before paying the surcharge.

Most banks already do those things voluntarily, but surveys by the consumer organization U.S. Public Interest Research Group indicate that 10 percent to 15 percent of ATMs nationwide do not.

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