Their view: Proposed legislation could cost you more

William Jacobs, chairman of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, and Sylvia Lyon, CEO, Credit Union Association of New Mexico are concerned about possible legislation that would place caps on the amount credit unions receive on debit transactions.

If new legislation passes, large retailers could pocket more of your hard-earned money and force your credit union to start charging fees on your debit card use.

Last summer, Congress slipped a provision into the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act that could have a profound effect on you, the American consumer. The provision establishes arbitrary caps on the amount credit unions receive on debit transactions to offset the cost of offering their debit card program to you at no charge. Those costs include fraud protection if your card gets lost or stolen. Right now, you, as a consumer, fortunately have little, if any liability should your debit card become compromised.

This legislation will save giant retailers — such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Sam’s Club — billions of dollars every year. Despite their argument that these retailers will pass their savings on to you, there is no mechanism in the Reform Act that would guarantee this.

Meanwhile, you and other consumers who shop at these retailers may face per-transaction fees and a monthly or yearly fee for the checking accounts and debit cards you currently have free of charge.

Fortunately, it is not too late. Legislation has recently been introduced in Congress to stop the Federal Reserve from implementing the provision and to conduct a thorough study on the effects the cap on fees will have on merchants, financial institutions and consumers.

The Credit Union Association of New Mexico, on behalf of the more than 600,000 credit union members, urges Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman to support this legislation that will stop this provision and ensure that we don’t fill the pockets of giant out-of-state retailers on the backs of hard-working New Mexicans.

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