Featured News 2012 America and the Addiction to Overdraft

America and the Addiction to Overdraft

In the world of credit cards, it is increasingly easy to overspend. When you run out of cash in your wallet, you still have a little plastic card that you can swipe to obtain any items you desire. According to CNN, Americans are once against overspending on what they have in their checking accounts. America was hit with about $31.5 billion in overdraft fees last year. In 2010, Americans paid a grand total of $30.8 billion in overdraft fees. From 2008-2011 Americans saw a drop in the tendency to overdraft. More citizens were saving and spending frugally as a result of the recession and keeping overdraft fees to a minimum. In fact, in this span of time the amount of overdraft fees issued per year fell by about a third. Yet the amount of overdraft penalties for 2012 has started to rise. Currently, the levying of overdraft penalties is up 10 percent in the past nine months.

Financial experts want to know if the rise in overdrafts is due to irresponsible credit card holders or shady bank practices. Currently, banks have shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars in order to settle claims after consumers discovered that some banks were re-ordering consumer purchases in order to obtain overdraft fees. The Card Act has made it illegal for banks to automatically enroll customers in overdraft protection, which limits the amount of people who commonly get hit with fees they didn’t even know they could be forced to pay. Right now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into bank practices and making sure that all overdraft fees are issued fairly and with the customer’s knowledge. Typically, an overdraft fee costs a bank customer about $30 per overdraft. While one overdraft fee won’t set someone back, a person who habitually overdrafts could end up in a difficult situation.

For many banks, overdraft fees are a huge source of income. When a person has a free bank account, the overdraft fees help to keep the bank running. Bankrate.com says that there are about 150 million bank accounts in America and they generate around $41 billion in fees for banks. Three-quarters of that money comes from overdraft penalties. About 90 percent of all overdraft penalties are generated by 18 million customers that habitually chose to overcharge on their accounts. Typically, the people that are paying most of the overdraft fees are those that are least able to pay. They are the men and women who can’t afford to pay for groceries or a new pair of shoes, and have to overdraft in order to obtain the purchase.

During the Occupy movement last year, Bank of America chose to charge all debit account holders a $5 monthly. The occupy activists responded with anger and pulled their accounts in favor of smaller community banks. Because of the loss of business, Bank of America recanted on the charge. CNN says that the charge may have aided the banks because it would have removed their reliance on overdraft fees to make a profit. Now that the fee is gone they are back to encouraging people to overspend so that they can collect the penalty fees. If you have been hit with overdraft fees and are not able to pay, you may be sinking into debt. If that debt gets unmanageable, then you may want to think about contacting a bankruptcy attorney. By filing for bankruptcy, you may be able to discharge some debts while obtaining the finances to pay for others. If you are in a difficult place financially, then explore the option of bankruptcy with the help of a knowledgeable attorney!

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