No one likes overdraft fees: Who wants to pay $34 for a $5 hamburger? The public has until a March 30 deadline to tell banking regulators at the Federal Reserve Board whether a) banks should be required to let customers "opt in" to these high-cost lending programs or b) be allowed to continue automatically signing them up?

Only the first of the Federal Reserve's proposed rules—the opt-in option---would be a real step toward reforming overdraft practices. That's because it would require banks to get a customer's permission before enrolling him or her in a costly overdraft program for ATM and debit card purchases. The other one would let banks continue to sign customers up before asking their express consent.

For years federal regulators have said they want more comment from consumers on pocketbook issues. With email it's easy to do. The clock's ticking. Consumer comments will make a difference in what Federal Reserve Board regulators decide. Bankers will be commenting. Their customers should be, too.

For more information: Kathleen Day at (202) 349-1871 or; or Ginna Green at (510) 379-5513 or

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