An overdraft fees report issued Tuesday found that most major banks in the U.S. continue to charge high fees as a penalty to those customers for overdrafts of their accounts.
The report was issued by The Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent, non-profit organization, USA Today noted.
The report shows that more than two out of five banks have set up account holders’ transactions in a way that maximizes overdraft penalty fees.
“Over the past several decades, banks have increasingly charged consumers fees, such as for overdraft, to generate revenue on checking accounts,” the report says. “Overdraft programs are marketed as a service provided by financial institutions, but in practice consumers often incur unexpected fees that exceed the original transaction amount.”
“These charges can be levied on debit card, automated clearinghouse (ACH), ATM, checks, and other transactions,” the report continued. “Most consumers do not learn of an overdraft for two or more days, and more than two-thirds of overdrafters say they would rather have a transaction declined than incur a $35 fee.”
According to the report, overdraft and other related fees have more than doubled in the past 30 years, The New York Times noted.
The Times reported that small banks also charge customers high overdraft fees, just a few dollars less than what larger banks charge their customers.
In a separate report that focuses on smaller banks, the study used “secret shoppers” to attain exclusive information from some 45 smaller U.S. banks.
The report shows that all 45 of these banks allow their customers to rack up fees of at least $90 on a daily basis.
Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center, said the findings in this new report come as no surprise.
“Some smaller banks are far more addicted to overdraft fees than bigger banks,” she said, per The Times.
“The existing protections are not working,” said Joy Hackenbracht, a research officer with the consumer banking project. “There is a better way to do this.”
Pew is requesting that federal regulators limit overdraft fees to six per year; ban the reordering of transactions, which leads to maximum fees; and “provide account holders with clear terms and pricing information,” the Times noted.
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