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Prepared Remarks of CFPB Director Richard Cordray on the Prepaid Accounts Rule Press Call

October 05, 2016 / Source: CFPB

SPEECH

Washington, D.C.

By Richard Cordray – OCT 05, 2016

Thank you for joining us on this call. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today has finalized a new rule providing strong federal consumer protections for prepaid account users.

Prepaid accounts are among the fastest growing consumer financial products in the United States. One common form is the “general purpose reloadable” card, easily available at any number of stores or online. Consumers can load money onto these cards and use them for everyday purchases, just as they do with a bank account and a debit card. Prepaid accounts may also be loaded with funds by a third party, such as an employer.

The amount consumers put on general purpose reloadable cards grew from less than $1 billion in 2003 to nearly $65 billion in 2012. And the total value loaded onto them is expected to nearly double to $112 billion by 2018. These accounts can be used to make payments, store funds, withdraw cash at ATMs, receive direct deposits, or send money to others. This market also includes a growing number of mobile or electronic prepaid accounts, such as PayPal or Google Wallet, which can also be used for a wide range of transactions.

Before today, however, many of these products lacked strong consumer protections under federal law. Our new rule closes loopholes and protects prepaid consumers when they swipe their card, shop online, or scan their smartphone. Among the key new requirements that financial institutions must meet are these: (1) they must limit consumer losses when funds are stolen or cards are lost; (2) they must investigate and resolve errors that occur; and (3) they must give consumers free and easy access to their account information. The Bureau also has finalized new “Know Before You Owe” disclosures for prepaid accounts that give consumers the clear information they need, up front, about the fees they can be charged and other key details.

In addition to these requirements governing prepaid accounts, financial institutions must offer protections similar to those for credit cards if they allow a prepaid account to be used to access certain credit extended by the institution, its affiliates, or its business partners. These protections would apply when a prepaid card can be used to cover a transaction even though the account lacks sufficient funds, with certain exceptions. 

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