[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 5-14-1996 by L.L. No. 11-1996 (Ch. 220 of the 1985 Code). Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that many banks are now charging their customers exorbitant fees for reduced services rendered, which at a time of economic difficulty impose a financial hardship on the residents of Suffolk County.
This Legislature further finds and determines that the best way to provide direct immediate protection against unconscionable or exploitative banking practices is through the magic of free market, open competitive practices rather than through the heavy hand of government mandates.
This Legislature also finds and determines that the best way to enhance competition is through a widespread public information and education program that will rank financial institutions providing banking services throughout the County of Suffolk on the basis of consumer-protection criteria.
Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to encourage banks to engage in consumer-friendly activities by providing a quarterly ranking of banks, financial institutions or lending institutions doing business within the County of Suffolk in accordance with consumer-protection criteria.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A bank, trust company, private banker or banking institution that accepts deposits, grants loans or engages in the extension of credit.
- DOING BUSINESS
- Conducting, performing or exercising, either individually or in a syndicated credit, the ordinary functions and activities for which a depositary or lending institution or investment institution is organized.
- EXTENSION OF CREDIT
- Loan; credit sales; the supplying of funds through the underwriting, distribution or acquisition of securities; the making or assisting in the making of a direct placement; or otherwise participating in the offering, distribution or acquisition of securities for any general purpose.
- Any loan that is specified for a targeted, limited, specific purpose and where there is a documented effort to verify that the proceeds of the loan are dedicated for such specific purpose; any general-purpose loan which can be used for any purpose at the sole discretion of the borrower; and/or any type of credit, including credit extended in connection with a credit sale.
[Amended 9-15-2011 by L.L. No. 49-2011; 6-17-2014 by L.L. No. 32-2014]
The County Office of Citizen Affairs, or any successor entity thereto, is hereby authorized, empowered and directed, pursuant to § C31-3A(13) of the Suffolk County Charter, in conjunction with the Suffolk County Department of Audit and Control, pursuant to § C5-2 of the Suffolk County Charter, to provide a written ranking of any depositary doing business within the County of Suffolk on March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31 of each and every year, beginning with the first quarter occurring on or after the effective date of this chapter, said written ranking to be distributed to the County Executive and to the County Legislature on said dates, based on the following consumer-protection standards:
Does the depositary:
Affirmatively mention the availability of lifeline accounts to all potential customers who inquire as to the various accounts available at the bank?
Not charge a fee for using a live teller?
Forward copies of cashed checks to the consumer at no charge?
Not impose minimum deposit requirements in excess of $2,000 to open an interest-bearing account?
Not charge a monthly service fee for the first 15 checks in each checking account?
Not charge a fee to a customer who submits a check written by another party with insufficient funds to cover the check?
Limit the cost for the preparation of a money order to no more than $3.50?
Cash all government-issued checks without charging a fee?
The greater the compliance with the above criteria, the more consumer-friendly the ranking shall be.
This chapter shall apply beginning with the first quarter immediately subsequent to the effective date of this chapter.