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FTC proposes new rule to ban junk fees, potentially saving consumers ‘tens of billions’

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(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Trade Commission is proposing a new rule that seeks to eliminate junk fees — those hidden costs that can unexpectedly push up prices consumers pay at checkout.

The proposed rule would apply to many industries across the economy, including event tickets, hotels and apartment rentals. If the rule goes into effect, companies that continue to charge these fees could be fined and forced to pay back consumers.

The FTC says the far-reaching rule could save consumers “tens of billions of dollars in fees.”

“The proposed rule would prohibit corporations from running up the bills with hidden and bogus fees, requiring honest pricing and spurring firms to compete on honesty rather than deception,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said on a call with reporters.

The FTC estimates the proposed rule will save consumers more than 50 million hours per year of wasted time spent searching for the total price in live ticketing and short-term lodging alone. This time savings is equivalent to more than $10 billion over the next decade.

There will be a 60-day public comment period once the rule is published in the Federal Register.

Senior administration officials, however, did not have guidance on when the rule could be finalized and go into effect.

The FTC has the authority to move forward with this rule without additional approval from Congress, officials said.

As President Joe Biden continues his push of “Bidenomics” and focuses on the everyday costs that hit American pocketbooks, this is another chance for the president to try to appeal to voters about his economic message. He’s repeatedly highlighted his administration’s efforts to tackle these junk fees across a number of sectors — from air travel to health care.

Separately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is issuing guidance to large banks and credit unions, prohibiting them from charging customers fees for basic information about their accounts, like checking their bank account balance.

The CFPB also released a new report showing its crackdown on bounced check fees has saved consumers nearly $2 billion since 2021.

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