Have you or someone you know ever been burned by ATM/Debit fees you don’t understand? Turns out there is a reason for that.

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Source: the Center for Responsible Lending
Prevailing overdraft practices artificially drive up fees

Banks and credit unions now enroll many of their account holders into the most expensive option for covering overdrafts—an option customers generally don’t want and didn’t ask for—and leave them without the information they need to protect their funds. Under these systems, financial institutions routinely approve uncovered transactions without warning their customers of a deficit in their accounts, and charge an average $34 fee for each incident, even when the uncovered purchase is for just a few dollars.

Fees vastly outweigh shortfalls

Almost half of all overdrafts (46%) are triggered by debit cards at the ATM or the point of sale. These overdrafts could be easily prevented with a warning or denial. Most debit point-of-sale overdrafts are small, averaging less than half this $34 fee, meaning that these overdraft loans cost nearly $2 for every dollar advanced to cover the shortfall.

Unfair practices

Unfair practices include holding deposits longer than necessary and clearing daily transactions from the highest to the lowest, which often allows the bank to charge more fees than are warranted. Banks and credit unions are collecting $17.5 billion per year in abusive overdraft fees, higher even than the $15.8 billion extended in funds to cover the overdrafts.

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