Consumers Union offers tips for consumers as banks begin charging new fees
How to avoid losing money
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Bank of America has decided to charge its customers a $5 monthly fee for debit card transactions starting in 2012. Other big banks, including Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase are also testing debit card fees in certain markets.
But plenty of banks are still offering debt card services without a fee. Consumers Union is offering tips to consumers on how they can avoid new fees and what to do if they decide to move their money to another bank.
“It’s important for consumers to know what fees their bank charges and to understand those fees up front so they can make an informed choice about what they are willing to pay,” said Norma Garcia, manager of Consumers Union’s financial services program. “There are a lot of banks and credit unions that will be eager to attract new customers unhappy with all the new fees that some big banks are starting to charge. Consumers can take some steps to limit fees. But if they decide to move their money to another bank, they should keep a few things in mind to avoid financial headaches.”
Consumers Union advised consumers to keep a close eye on their bank statement to be on the lookout for new fees. New fees will show up first in the enclosures and then on bank statements.
If consumers are unhappy with a new fee, they should complain to their bank about it.
Consumers should ask their bank what other accounts it offers-one of them may fit with their pattern of transactions better. Some fees are “trial balloons.” The bank may be testing to see if its customers will put up with a particular new fee.
Consumers should check with their bank to find out what steps they can take to avoid monthly fees. Some banks will eliminate monthly fees if consumers use direct deposit for their paycheck or maintain a minimum balance. Consumers should avoid using non-network ATMs. Every time a consumer uses an ATM that is not part of their bank’s network, they get charged by the operator of the ATM and by their bank. That can mean a $5 charge just for withdrawing money from their accounts.
For consumers who decide they want to move their money to another bank, Consumers Union outlined a number of steps consumers should take to move their money safely, including things to keep in mind as they re-route automatic payments and direct deposits and how to avoid losing any money in the process. For more details, see: http://www.defendyourdollars.org/pdf/steps-moveyourmoney.pdf
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Bank of America is reportedly considering ways to scale back its plan to charge most of its customers a monthly $5 debit card fee according to Reuters.
The bank has indicated that it is exploring ways to allow more customers to avoid the fee, including maintaining a certain minimum balance, using direct deposit for paychecks or having a Bank of America credit card. No specific details have been officially announced by the bank.
Bank of America plans to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee for using their debit card to make purchases. The fee will be rolled out starting early next year.
A number of banks have already either rolled out or are testing such fees. But Bank of America's announcement carries added weight because it is the largest U.S. bank by deposits.
In August 2010, the Federal Reserve Board directed banks to seek customer approval before enrolling them in high-cost overdraft coverage. Now nearly a year later, a new survey by the Center for Responsible Lending finds there are still lingering consumer misperceptions as to what consumers believe they were actually signing up for. Among consumers who opted in to overdraft, 64 percent thought they were getting coverage to avoid bounced checks even though overdraft only affects debit card and ATM transactions.
The downtown area got a dose of 1960s activism last Thursday, when a coalition of protesters including members of the Alliance of Californians of Community Empowerment (ACCE), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), along with Occupy LA, descended upon a branch of Chase Bank.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A Lancaster man was jailed today on suspicion of following people home from banks and robbing them, a sheriff's spokesman said.
Lee Jones, 41, of Lancaster, is suspected in at least four holdups, sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said.
Jones was arrested Friday on suspicion of an unrelated crime, then linked two robberies in Glendale and one each in Acton and Stevenson Ranch, Parker said.