A LAWMAKER has filed a bill seeking to prohibit the imposition of fees and charges on dormant accounts, saying these are an additional financial burden for depositors.
House Bill No. 7664 filed by Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez proposes to stop banks from charging service, maintenance or any other fees on dormant accounts.
The bill defines dormant accounts as current or checking accounts that have no deposit or withdrawal activity for three years or savings accounts left untouched for five years.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Manual of Regulations for Banks tags as dormant current or checking accounts showing no activity for one year and savings accounts with no deposits or withdrawals for two years.
“The practice of these banks, as authorized by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is to charge fees on these dormant accounts, usually in an amount ranging from P300 to P500 per month,” Mr. Rodriguez said in the bill’s explanatory note.
“One explanation as to why banks charged dormancy fees is that banks may have anticipated a certain amount of activity on each account, which can generate fee income for them. And because of the inactivity, they see these dormant fees as a way to replace the expected income that they lost to the detriment of the depositor,” he said.
Mr. Rodriguez said these charges and fees must not be imposed on depositors as banks already earn interest when they use deposits to fund their loans.
Under the bill, banks are required to review and segregate dormant accounts at least once every semester.
“As a matter of policy, banks shall exert all efforts to prevent checking and savings accounts from becoming dormant. When it becomes apparent that an account is inactive, a short letter should be sent to the depositor encouraging him to use his account. In case of checking accounts, the banks shall ensure that the monthly statement of accounts reach the depositors,” it said.
The bill also proposes to turn over unclaimed deposit balances in dormant accounts to the National Treasury.
“After one year has lapsed without any activity on any account, the bank shall send a notice to the depositor informing him of said inactivity. Thereafter, banks shall regularly send notices to the depositor every six months,” it said.
“Three months prior to the expiration of the periods as stated in Section 1 of this Act, the bank shall send a final notice to the depositor informing him of the impending deposit of his account to the National Treasury,” it added.
The bill is pending with the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries. — B.M.D. Cruz