By unanimous votes, the House passed two bills sponsored by Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester), which would cut consumer fees for cashing government checks and establish a minimum time frame for consumer loan contracts.

“House Bill 1361 lowers the fee for cashing a federal, state or local government check from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent, and further reduces the rate to 0.5 percent for government assistance checks, such as Social Security, workers’ or unemployment compensation, railroad retirement or veterans benefits, federal or state assistance and housing assistance,” said Ross.  “There is very little risk in cashing government checks. Thus, there is no reason to charge high fees for those transactions. 

“This bill helps consumers by lowering the rates that businesses can charge to cash a government check and by requiring them to post their rates and fees where customers can see them.  It also protects the check cashing businesses by permitting them to recover losses sustained with a customer fraudulently misrepresents himself or herself,” he said.

House Bill 1362 establishes that a consumer contract must be a minimum of 10 business days in duration and allow borrowers to pay back the money in regular installments.  Currently there is no minimum time frame for these contracts.  Ross said his bill would protect consumers by discouraging predatory lending practices.

Both bills are now on their way to the Senate for consideration.