White House urges states to join crackdown on ‘junk fees’

WASHINGTON — Top White House officials and the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday will urge states to expand their efforts to crack down on surprise fees consumers are forced to pay on everything from rental housing to cable bills.

The push is part of President Joe Biden’s government-wide effort to reduce or eliminate so-called “junk fees” that jack up costs for consumers. Some agencies have already taken action, including a proposed rule by the CFPB to cut most credit card late fees and a Department of Transportation proposal to require airlines to disclose all fees up front.

Biden has vowed to keep attacking the issue on the federal level, but the White House said on Wednesday that action by state governments is also “essential” to rid the U.S. economy of billions of dollars in “unnecessary, unavoidable, or surprise charges.”

To boost their efforts, the White House will host a virtual meeting on Wednesday with hundreds of state legislators, some of whom will share actions they have taken to reduce or eliminate junk fees by beefing up enforcement, passing new laws or even changing their contracts with third-party providers.

It will also release a new guide that maps out actions states can take.

“These junk fees, which are often not disclosed upfront and only revealed after a consumer has decided to buy something, obscure true prices and dilute the forces of market competition that are the bedrock of the U.S economy,” the guide said.

CFPB Director Rohit Chopra will speak at the event, which will be livestreamed at 1 p.m., along with Biden’s domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and his new top economic adviser, Lael Brainard, who moved over from the Federal Reserve last month.


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