Why is your bank account leaking so much money ever year? Where does it all go? Checking account customers are bleeding funds to the tune of about $225 per year on average, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says in a new study. That means that despite regulations aimed at lessening the effects of overdraft fees and clear up the whole process.
Back in 2010, the Federal Reserve instituted a rule that was supposed to improve the transparency of overdraft programs, starting with making banks automatically opt customers out of overdraft protection. They could then sign up for such a system, which covers a customer’s tail if their account doesn’t have enough funds to pay for a transaction — for a fee of up about $35 per transaction.
But now we’re spending between $147 and $298 annually on those pesky fees, the CFPB says, adding that those fees make up 60% or more of consumer checking account fee revenue. Banks obviously aren’t complaining about raking in that cash.
It’s worse for some customers, who are known as repeat offenders because they just can’t stop overdrawing their accounts and end up paying way more in fees, which in turn, makes it hard for them to get their bank accounts back on track.
Those bank customers are more likely to have an account closed for bad behavior, the CFPB study says — some involuntary bank account closure rates were more than twice as high for customers with overdraft protection than those that don’t have it.
Now, the CFPB says it’s taking a careful look at the costs and risks such services pose to consumers in order to figure out what to do next.
“Consumers need to be able to anticipate and avoid unnecessary fees on their checking accounts,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “But we are concerned that some overdraft practices may increase consumer costs beyond reasonable expectations.”
In other words, there’s still a whole lot of work to do.