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Senator sets sights on Wells Fargo debit fees

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Having already blasted Bank of America for its plan to enact debit-card fees, Sen. Richard J. Durbin now is going after Wells Fargo, saying the company is making a big-enough profit that it should be able to absorb the costs rather than pass them on to customers.

Mr. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, was critical to the passage of a new law that limits the so-called “swipe fees” credit-card companies can charge stores each time a customer uses a card to pay — and that also affects debit cards, where the money comes straight out of a customer’s bank account.

The swipe fees were paid by the businesses that allowed credit cards, but in the wake of the law, several banks now are looking to customers to make up the shortfall.

Mr. Durbin said the banks should eat the costs instead, and on Wednesday he fired off a letter to Wells Fargo Chairman John G. Stumpf protesting the bank’s plans to try out a monthly fee for debit-card users in five states.

“Wells Fargo will make at least an estimated $1.22 billion in annual debit interchange revenue after swipe-fee reform. This amount far exceeds any reasonable measure of the cost to Wells Fargo of conducting debit transactions,” Mr. Durbin said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Durbin attacked Bank of America, which announced its own plans for debit-card fees, which it also blamed on the new federal law.

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