Hidden debit card fees skyrocketing
It used to be if you didn’t have any funds in your bank account, the bank wouldn’t give you any money.
In 2003, a banking policy changed. If a withdrawal exceeded a customers balance, banks used to routinely deny debit-card transactions unless the account was linked to a savings account or credit card to cover the amount.
Now, without alerting customers, many banks are letting the charges go through. And they are assessing a fee of about $30 each time this happens.
This change is it costing Americans about $8.25 billion a year, according to an article in Consumer Reports magazine, November 2007. One study showed that customers who didn’t use debit cards paid $40 a year in overdraft fees, while customers who used debit cards more than 20 times a year paid $223.
Forced arbitration for credit card complaints could cost you plenty
It’s in the fine print when you sign up to get a credit card.
Binding arbitration is required if you get into a squabble with the credit card company. And you don’t have any choice in the matter.
Binding arbitration forces consumers into a private system weighted in favor of corporate interests, Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group, states in a report, “The Arbitration Trap: How Credit Card Companies Ensnare Consumers.”
Congress is considering bills, S. 1782 and H.R. 3010, that address the problem, Public Citizen reports in its November/December 2007 newsletter. Contracting parties would still be allowed to choose arbitration, but that choice could be made after the dispute comes up.
Simpler system for filing complaints against banks needed
If you have a complaint about the bank that issued your credit card, what should you do?
With five agencies overseeing banks and taking complaints, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, it’s difficult for consumers to determine which agency to contact.
Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports magazine, told Congress that a one-stop filing system is needed and people should be allowed to complain by phone, fax, mail, and online. The organization also believes complaint forms should be simple and agencies should disclose the percentage of consumer complaints resolved.