Scream if you dislike overdraft fees

Visa credit card in wallet

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Well, raise your hand if you'd like to do something about big bank overdraft fees. Yeah, that's what I thought. Today's the deadline for the public to weigh in about proposed changes the Federal Reserve is considering. They're thinking about requiring banks to get customers' consent before enrolling them in their overdraft programs. Right now, nearly all banks sign customers up automatically for those hefty fees automatically. Danielle Karson reports.


Danielle Karson: The Federal Reserve's Web site features hundreds of complaints from people getting slapped with unexpected overdraft fees when they use their debit or ATM cards. A survey by the Center for Responsible Lending finds a majority doesn't want to be automatically enrolled in an overdraft program.

Leslie Parrish: Most people want their debit card transactions to be declined if they would result in an overdraft. Now, you can use your debit care for the smallest of purchases, it will go through, regardless of your account balance and you'll be charged that fee.

The Center's Leslie Parrish says banks rake in more than $17 billion a year in overdraft fees. Banks say customers can easily check their accounts on the Internet or phone.

Parrish: But it's very unfair sometimes. We hear a lot of people have their paycheck deposited into their account; they make a string of debit card purchases, and then find out it won't actually be credited for several days.

The Federal Reserve hopes to decide by summer whether to let customers opt in or out of their banks' overdraft programs.

In Washington, I'm Danielle Karson for Marketplace.

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