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LIFELINE CHECKING OFFERED BY ALL STATE BANKS AND THRIFTS

 TRENTON, N.J., May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- New Jersey Banking Commissioner Jeff Connor today announced that survey results show 100 percent of the state's chartered banks and savings and loans provide consumers with low-cost checking services.
 "Our Lifeline Checking Program is providing low- and moderate-income people access to traditional financial services they may not otherwise have," Connor said. "All of our depositories who offer checking accounts are on board, demonstrating a commitment by public and private agencies to the people of New Jersey."
 The Lifeline Checking Program, signed into law by Gov. Jim Florio in July 1991, directs banks to provide low-cost checking to individuals who write a limited number of checks per month. Under the department's regulations implementing the statute, checking services qualify if eight free checks are permitted each month and a minimum balance of not less than $1 is maintained. Checks which exceed the limit may not cost the consumer more than 50 cents each and a monthly account service charge may not be more than $3.
 "Governor Florio has demonstrated his concern to bring everyone, regardless of income, into the mainstream of traditional financial activity," Connor said. "Our state-chartered banks and thrifts have answered our call to provide this type of access for everyone."
 New Jersey has 57 state-chartered banks and 24 state-chartered savings banks, all of which offer low-cost checking to consumers. Of the 60 state-chartered savings and loan associations, 56 offer checking services and all of these offer a product which is in compliance with the law.
 According to Connor, "Federal savings and loans and national banks have evidenced near-total compliance with the program as well, in spite of the argument made by some that the state law is pre-empted as regards them." Among national banks in New Jersey, 41 of 45 or 91 percent provide a service equivalent to New Jersey's Lifeline Checking. Of 25 federal savings and loans, 22, or 88 percent, provide a service similar to New Jersey's requirement. Said Connor, "I hope that in the months ahead our national banks and federally chartered savings and loans will evidence the same 100 percent compliance already shown by our state- chartered institutions."
 "With over 100,000 New Jersey consumers now signed up for Lifeline Checking, our program can be labeled a success. We must continue to provide these types of programs for people who for too long have not been part of the system or more recently have been frozen out by increased fees and high monthly balance requirements," Connor said. "Our banks should be commended for their efforts, but they should not stop in working to provide opportunity and access for low- and moderate- income customers."
 NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF BANKING LIFELINE CHECKING SURVEY RESULTS
 Were sent Responded Pct.
 questionnaire to survey response
 rate
 State-chartered commercial banks 57 57 100
 State-chartered savings banks 24 24 100
 State-chartered savings and loan
 associations 60 60 100
 Totals 141 141 100
 (A) (B) (C) (D)
 State-chartered commercial
 banks (Responses, 57) 57(100 pct) 13(23 pct) 55(96 pct) 52(91 pct)
 State-chartered savings
 banks (Responses, 24) 24(100) 2(8) 24(100) 22(92)
 State-chartered S&Ls
 (Responses, 60) 56(100)(E) 17(30) 53(95) 52(93)
 Totals
 (Responses, 141) 137(100)(E) 32(23) 13(9) 126(92)
 (A) Offer checking account features at least as favorable to consumers as those specified in regulations.
 (B) Offer features more favorable than those specified in regulations.
 (C) Have posted signs.
 (D) Have made written material available.
 (E) Four state-chartered associations indicated they do not offer checking accounts.
 /delval/
 -0- 5/7/93
 /CONTACT: Sandy A. Cooney of the Office of the Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Banking, 609-292-7001/


CO: New Jersey Department of Banking ST: New Jersey IN: FIN SU:

MK-CC -- PH014 -- 5953 05/07/93 12:15 EDT
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Date:May 7, 1993
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