House passes Ross check-cashing, consumer protection measures

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed legislation introduced by State Rep. Chris Ross (R-158) that would slash fees for cashing government checks and establish a timeframe for consumer loan contracts.

H.B. 1361 amends the 1998 Check Casher Licensing Act to cut the fee for cashing a government-issued check, to require the posting of fees for public consideration and to provide fraud-loss recovery.

The bill cuts the fee to 1.5 percent for all checks other than assistance checks and 0.5 percent for assistance checks, including Social Security, workers' or unemployment compensation, veterans benefits, federal or state assistance, housing assistance or railroad retirement.

Under the proposed bill, consumers would be liable for fraud, and the check casher would have the ability to recover losses equal to three times the value of the check or three times actual damage resulting from the bad check.

"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," Ross said. "It also protects the check cashing businesses by permitting them to recover losses sustained with a customer fraudulently misrepresents himself or herself."

H.B. 1362 would amend existing law to redefine the minimum timeframe for a consumer contract. Currently, the state does not have a law establishing a minimum timeframe for the contracts. Under Ross' bill, a minimum of 10 business days would be required for repayment under a loan contract.
Both of the bills are currently on their way to the Senate for consideration.