Tags: pew | bank | fees | hiding

Pew: Banks Still Raising Fees — and Hiding Them

Sunday, 14 Oct 2012 03:06 PM

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Banks are raising fees on their checking-account customers and are hiding them, a study of 12 banks by Pew Charitable Trusts finds.

Information on fees can be buried deep in paperwork and sometimes not on bank and credit unions' web sites.

Pew researchers examined bank and credit union disclosures for 274 checking accounts.

Editor's Note: Startling Proof of the End of America’s Middle Class. Details in the Video

The documents consisted of account agreements, addenda to account agreements, and fee schedules. For banks, the median length of the documentation was 69 pages, with a range of 21 to 153 pages.

"Pew also evaluated the location of the disclosures for certain fees and rules—or if they were disclosed at all. In some cases, terms and conditions were accessible on the institution’s checking home page or the Web pages of specific accounts, making them accessible to consumers," Pew reported.

"Information also could be accessed in fee schedules and account agreements available from the financial institutions’ websites. However, in other instances, details were not disclosed in any of these online locations, requiring customers to visit bank branches in person or request disclosure documents by mail."

Amid a sluggish economy marked by reduced demand for financial services, banks are doing what they can to drum up revenue, but they may be in for competition.

Walmart and American Express are teaming up to offer a prepaid debt card to lure customers away from banks and their fees.

The Bluebird card requires no minimum balance and no maintenance or activation fee, and customers can use it at ATMs as well.

"Our customers tell us that they're tired of navigating a complex maze of dos and don'ts to avoid the ever growing list of fees found on checking products," says Daniel Eckert, vice president of financial services for Walmart U.S., according to Yahoo! News.

"Bluebird solves this problem."

Editor's Note: Startling Proof of the End of America’s Middle Class. Details in the Video

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