Bank of America tries to show its consumer-friendly side

Bank of America said Monday it has lent nearly $760 billion in the past year, or almost $17 for every dollar it has received in government loans.

The Charlotte bank highlighted the news in its third-quarter Impact Report, which it started issuing this year after chief executive Ken Lewis pledged greater transparency in the bank's lending and investing. The bank holds $45 billion in government loans that it is eager to repay to loosen the government's grip on its operations.

The data also showed that lending slowed 13 percent in the third quarter, compared to the second quarter.

The bank highlighted recent consumer-friendly changes, such as an effort to pull back on overdraft fees it announced in September, with more changes coming in June. The bank has also made a "clarity commitment" to mortgage and home-equity borrowers, giving them a one-page, plain-language summary of the terms of their loans. It plans a similar disclosure for card customers in December.

The bank also highlighted its efforts to modify mortgage terms for struggling borrowers. Its "default assistance staff" now employs 11,000, a 55 percent increase this year.

In a letter to "customers, shareholders, associates, and fellow citizens," CEO Lewis highlighted a change in strategy for a bank that has always strived for big.

"In all of our work, from loan modifications to new lending and investing, a key theme is quality, not just quantity," Lewis wrote. "The number of customers we serve is important - but making sure that modifications are sustainable, and that new loans satisfy sound underwriting requirements, are equally important."

Lending was down over the previous quarter in almost every category, which the bank partly attributed to a drop in demand as consumers and businesses scaled back on spending.

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