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Study: Consumers Unknowingly Agreeing to Overdraft Fees

Consumers remain confused about overdraft protection and the fees they generate, with better than half of them unknowingly opting into expensive coverage and a third of them not finding out until the charges started wracking up, according to a new study.

Responding to a request from the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on information about overdraft fees and associated practices, the Pew Charitable Trust took a look at how overdraft coverages were being used and found consumers still aren’t clear about how they work.

'We really had some surprise with the results, especially with those who had overdrafted their accounts, but didn’t realize they had opted into the coverage,' said Susan Weinstock, director of the state checking project that was released today.

'It all shows a great deal of customer confusion over how the programs work,' she said.


Pew says the number of consumers who say they didn’t realize they’d opted in for coverage—the result of banking reforms the Federal Reserve put into place in 2010—indicates the program and its varieties remain unclear. Overdraft fees first became an issue in 2009.

'There must be more clarity and transparency,' Weinstock said.

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Safe Checking in the Electronic Age

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