02- 029 C.M.R. ch. 109, § V - Use of the Words "Free," "Fees Waived" or "Profit"

A. Advertising of consumer deposit accounts by a regulated institution may not refer to or describe the account as "free" or "no cost" or contain a similar term, if a maintenance or activity fee may be imposed on the account. For purposes of this section, maintenance or activity fees include:
1. Fees imposed when a minimum balance requirement is not met or a specified number of transactions is exceeded;
2. Transaction and service fees that can be reasonably expected to be imposed on a regular basis;
3. A flat fee, such as a monthly service fee; and
4. Fees imposed to deposit, withdraw, or transfer funds, including per-check or per-transaction charges.

Examples of fees that are not considered to be maintenance or activity fees include:

1. Check printing fees;
2. Balance inquiry fees;
3. Stop-payment fees and fees associated with checks returned unpaid;
4. Fees assessed against a dormant account; and
5. Fees for ATM or electronic transfer services, such as pre-authorized transfers or home banking services that are not required to obtain an account.
B. Advertising by a regulated institution for a consumer deposit account may refer to or describe the account as "free" or "no cost" or contain a similar term, under the following circumstances:
1. A specific account service or feature may be advertised as "free," if no fee is imposed for that service or feature. For example, regulated institutions offering an account that is free of deposit or withdrawal fees could advertise that fact, as long as the advertisement does not mislead consumers by implying that no other fee (a monthly service fee, for example) may be charged.
2. If an account or a specific account service is free only for a limited period of time and the time period is stated, the account or service may be advertised as "free."
3. An account may be advertised as "free" for consumers meeting conditions not related to deposit accounts, such as the consumer's age.
C. Advertising of a consumer deposit account may not use the term "fees waived," if a maintenance or activity fee may be imposed.
D. The term "profit" may not be used, in referring to interest paid on a consumer deposit account.

Federal Regulations

It is recognized that the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Office of Thrift Institutions, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Credit Union Administration may have promulgated regulations concerning advertising activities of financial institutions, financial institution holding companies or their subsidiaries. It is further recognized that there may exist differences in scope and coverage between this regulation and regulations promulgated by those federal regulatory agencies. It is not the intent of this regulation to permit any practice which is not permitted by the appropriate federal agency. To the contrary, besides any other restriction or limitation stated herein, each financial institution must fully comply with the regulations of any applicable federal agency.

Notes

02- 029 C.M.R. ch. 109, § V

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