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Richard Woodward

Restrictions on Bank Overdraft Fees Kick In

Monday, August 16, 2010 - Article by: Richard Woodward - Interlinc Mortgage - Message

It's a whole new ball game. New restrictions on bank overdraft fees mandated by the financial reform bill kicked in Sunday. Depending on how careful you are about keeping track of your bank balance, the new regulations are both good and bad. Banks can no longer charge customers overdraft fees unless you opt into the bank's overdraft protection program. On the other hand, banks will no longer cover overdrafts if you spend more than your available funds.

Credit repair professionals and consumer advocates are calling the new regulations a win for banking customers who complained that banks failed to notify customers when they overdrew their bank balance, charging multiple overdraft fees that ran from $15 to $30 per incident. During a day of shopping, consumers could rack up $100 or more in overdraft fees as they went from store to store, unaware that their account was overdrawn as the bank continued to approve purchases. Prior to this week's implementation of new regulations, banks were free to use their discretion in approving or denying expenditures when a customer's account was overdrawn. Banks often decided in favor of their customers, happy to tack a hefty overdraft fee onto their account. Many banks used free overdraft protection as a selling point to lure checking account customers who were unaware of the potential cost.

The change in bank overdraft regulations means that if you sign up for overdraft protection, your bank will continue to use its discretion in approving or denying expenditures when your account if overdrawn -- and it will continue to charge a hefty fee for that service. However, banks are being more restrictive in setting up overdraft protection services, forcing customers to tie overdraft protection to a savings account or credit card.

If you do not sign up for overdraft protection, your bank will deny expenditures if you overdraw your account. Debit card users stand to benefit the most from new banking procedures. If you try to make a debit card purchase without enough money in your account to cover the amount, your purchase will be denied at the store. While inconvenient and potentially embarrassing, denial will prevent you from overdrawing your account. For people using automatic bill payment, electronic bill payment or paper checks, it means that payment will be denied and you will be subject to check/payment return fees by your bank and the payment recipient.

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