The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is examining 9 banks on overdraft fees practices. The banks are being investigated for potentially pushing customers into overdraft protection programs which allow banks to collect more fees.
Overdraft Protection Programs
Overdraft protection programs allow people to overdraft their account, here’s the catch though, when you overdraft your account the bank charges you a fee and continues to until you bring your account back into balance. The issue here is that banks cannot automatically enroll you in this program, they need you to opt in (the Federal Reserve Passed this opt in rule effective July 1, 2010). As this is a big income generator for banks the CFPB is questioning how they have been convincing people (is it predatory?) to sign up for their overdraft protection programs.
There are benefits to overdraft protection programs in that it allows bank customers to overdraw their accounts when they may need to make a purchase with their debit cards. The overdraft fees can be painfully high though ($25 to $35) and there are questions around how banks account for the timing of your charges and the resulting fees.
Either way it is important for bank customers to proceed cautiously with opting into overdraft protection programs. Make sure that you understand your bank’s fine print and the positives and negatives of opting in.