Making the case for new overdraft legislation is a pretty big bit of evidence that shows just how hard those fees hit our wallets: Last year consumers paid a whopping $32 billion in overdraft fees, a $400 million jump from 2011. This, despite regulations that seek to protect consumers from such hefty charges.
Forbes.com sites a study by Moebs Services, which shows that although overdraft volume fell somewhat in 2012, the number of overdraft transactions rose in the last nine months of 2012 by 4.4%.
Banks have to receive permission from customers to provide overdraft protection on ATM and debit card transactions, which means if you don’t want to pay $35 each time your account is overdrawn, the bank would instead just prevent that transaction from going through.
Because of that 2010 Federal Reserve requirement, banks have been doing a bang-up job convincing customers they need overdraft protection — according to the study, 38 million checking accounts or about 26% overall, are frequent overdrafters.
These kinds of numbers are exactly why New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is pushing the Overdraft Protection Act, legislation that would, among other things, put a cap on the amount of overdraft fees a bank customer could pay, with only one allowed each month and up to six per year.
Fingers crossed that legislation makes it through the gauntlet of government, or we’ll likely be seeing even higher overdraft numbers next year.