New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio

Banks Still Charging Consumers Unexpected Fees

New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio — Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stacy Proebstle Reporting

Pay close attention to your checking account.

A new report shows consumers are still getting hit with unexpected fees and aren't getting clear information about overdraft rules.

Long and confusing documents that can run nearly 70 pages, and unexpected penalty fees for overdrawing your account are some of the findings in the latest study by the Pew Research Center.

"I'm not surprised that the study shows that...we know it, we hear about it all the time" said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action.

Despite government efforts to protect consumers from getting charged hidden fees on their accounts, banks are still finding sneaky ways to penalize people who overdraft their accounts.

"They do it in clever ways....first many of them have eliminated free checking or they are charging people who don't have a certain amount of money in their accounts to have free checking...they are also reordering your purchases from high to low so that your most expensive charge comes out first, that way you are much closer to overdrawing your account."

Salowe-Kaye said consumers need to shop carefully.

"Read all the documents, check your statement and talk to your bank about any fees you are unsure of."

Estimates show Americans paid nearly $30 billion in overdraft fees last year.

"It's ridiculous, a lot of money these banks are making on the backs of hard working consumers."

Listen to the report:: To the left, click the "Q" (QuickTime) or   >  to play, or download the 484 KB mp3 file, of this news segment (approximately 30 seconds).
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