CFPB Report Raises Concerns on Overdraft Fees

June 11, 2013
consumer financial protection bureau news

A new report by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says overdraft fees were charged to around 20 percent of checking accounts in 2011, with customers paying an average of $225 in overdraft fees over the year. The report indicates that some banks are making it difficult for consumers to avoid the fees and have transformed a courtesy service into a major revenue source. The report also states that it has become too hard for consumers to gauge how banks will process the order of transactions so they can avoid the fees. Consumers opting in to overdraft protection programs are more likely to be hit with higher fees or have their accounts involuntarily closed due to negative balances. According to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, "What is marketed as overdraft protection can in some instances put consumers in greater risk of harm. Consumers need to be able to control their costs and expenses, and they deserve clarity on these issues." An agency official says it remains to be seen whether it will limit overdraft fees or draft new rules, though observers think the order in which banks post transactions could be a target.
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