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CONSUMERS BEWARE OF HIDDEN BANK FEES:

Most of us are aware of bank fees, from wire transfer charges to ATM fees. But did you know there may be fees you’re being charged, that you are not even aware of? They’re often called hidden bank fees and you should always be on the lookout for them by reviewing every bank statement for each bank account you have.

Be proactive. Make sure you read all bank correspondence, even if it looks like junk mail, and comb through the fine print. This may be tedious and time consuming, but it is well worth your time and effort.

There are all sorts of bank fees that you might have to pay, from inactivity fees to early closure fees, and it can be hard to recognize and find out more about them. Ask your bank to explain if you have any questions.

Common fees include:

  • Online Bill Pay Fee: Banks often encourage people to do as much banking online as possible. But some banks have started charging fees for online banking services. Before creating an online account, ask upfront if the bank will be charging for any of their services, and be sure to read the Terms and Conditions on the bank’s website, because they often include terms that could negatively impact your rights.
  • Mobile Deposit Fee: Depositing checks virtually has made banking easier. But some financial experts warn it’s become so common for consumers, it’s inevitable that banks will start charging for the process. Don’t be afraid to ask your bank if that is or will be the case.
  • External Bank Transfer Fee: Many banks have started to charge a processing fee to transfer your money from one account at one financial institution to another account at a different financial institution. Often, banks do not disclose this transfer fee upfront. Before you initiate a transfer, ask your bank if there are any fees you will be charged. Sometimes these transfer fees vary, depending on how much money you have in your account, how you initiate the transfer, or the delivery timeframe. Make sure you know exactly what your bank’s policy is before you make external transfers.
  • Savings Withdrawal Fee: Under federal regulations, banks are allowed to limit you to six withdrawals and/or transfers from your savings or money market accounts per month. But there is no rule that says the withdrawals are free. This can depend on factors including what bank you use, how much you have in your savings and the type of accounts you open. Pro tip: the less money you have in savings, the more likely you are to be withdrawing regularly, and facing a fee.
  • Card Replacement Fee: A card delivery fee or card replacement fee is what you must pay if you request a new credit or debit card from your bank, usually if you’ve lost your card or it has been broken or stolen. Ask your bank if they charge for replacement cards. If it is your first replacement, or if you are required to obtain a replacement card because of a fraudulent transaction, you should ask your institution to waive the fee.
  • Paper Statement Fee: Because of online banking, not all banks send customers monthly statements in the mail. Those that do generally won’t charge for a single statement per month, or they may charge just for postage. However, when requesting a copy of a statement, there will probably be a fee to pay.
  • Inactivity Fee: You could get charged a hidden bank fee known as an inactivity fee, or dormancy fee, if you don’t use a bank account for a long period of time. Banks could charge a monthly payment for not using the account. Ask for information on any inactivity fees upfront.
  • Overdraft Fee: Overdraft fees or insufficient funds fees are extremely common, and they are often incurred when you try to spend more money than you currently have in your account. Sometimes when this happens, the bank will either let you go into your overdraft, or “return” the payment, meaning the transaction is canceled. These fees can add up, so check your bank account regularly to make sure you aren’t over drafting.

You should carefully review your bank statements every month and ask your bank about any fees before doing something out of the ordinary, like a wire transfer. If you see any fees that you do not think you agreed to, call your bank and ask to have the fee explained and removed. You can always try and work with your bank on these fees. If you’re a longtime customer or you make large deposits, you might be able to get a better deal or have certain fees waived.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also recently sounded the alarm about hidden bank fees, in an attempt to crack down on these so-called “junk fees.” They’ve asked consumers for input on hidden and excessive fees from a range of lenders. You can file a complaint with the Bureau online. GGM also continuously investigates hidden bank fees, so if you believe you have or are paying any, please contact us so we can investigate.

You also may be entitled to compensation. Even if the hidden fees are small, you could have claims against your credit card company that can be brought as a class action.

If you believe you are being charged wrongfully, and your bank is not willing to help, we can. The attorneys at George Gesten McDonald, PLLC have decades of experience successfully litigating consumer protection and fraud class action claims against some of the largest and most powerful companies in the nation. Call at (833) FIND-JUSTICE or visit us at our website: www.4-justice.com for more information.