Bank Of America / predatory overdraft policies
I’m writing you because you represent my voice and that of my fellow Americans in government when we feel we are being wronged. At this time, Americans are struggling mightily to make ends meet. Your efforts to fix predatory lending practices (especially in sub prime lending) have been noticed and appreciated.
To that end, I feel that another predatory practice by Bank of America needs to be discussed in a public forum and addressed soon thereafter. B of A currently charges fees of $35 per charge when one tries to charge more than one has in his or her bank account. At face value, it may seem that this is a fair practice. I can understand the practice if someone is passing bad checks and a fee has to be assessed. But with today’s debit technology, an automatic decline should be easy and free to the public.
When one digs deeper, one realizes that this is a practice purely designed to unfairly gouge the American public through deceit and obfuscation.
So, here’s the policy…A $35 fee for each time a charge over your funds is ATTEMPTED. As an example, recently I unknowingly was making charges on my debit card when I didn’t have the money to cover it. The charges were numerous but only totaled $23. That’s $23. One charge was for $.27 cents…for which I was charged $35. B of A charged me over $400.00 in overdraft fees for that $23 overage. I called Bank of America to try to find some relief for these charges and was told no. Seems counter to the “flexibility” and understanding for families that the new administration is trying to get in return for billions in bailout dollars.
Look a little deeper and the practice is even more disturbing:
1. You can’t actually just get an option for a decline on your charge without the $35 fee. So, even if you don’t have overdraft coverage, you will still be charged $35. Since technology has allowed banks to simply decline a charge, I don’t understand how BofA can justify charging a $35 fee for each charge versus just declining it for FREE.
2. BofA says the only way to protect against this is to link a BofA credit card or a savings account to your overdraft checking. So, an over-limit charge is charged to your BofA card or deducted from you savings account. In both cases, BofA makes money….either through interest on your credit card or from service fees on the savings account that you are required to have. And, by the way, the overdraft service also has another fee associated with it.
3. As if that weren’t enough, BofA recently increased the allowable number of charges per day from 5 to 8. That a $105.00 per day increase, per cardholder.
The bottom line is that I don’t want my money back from BofA (though they should have at least treated me better considering I hold six accounts with them). I, like the many Americans flooding blogs with similar stories, want justice. I would like this issue explored fully and for Bank of America to be called to answer for this unfair practice. The fact that American taxpayers in the US now own a $50B TARP stake in BofA (which only has a market cap of $40B, by the way), only makes our voices that much more relevant in this matter.
Lastly, I will say that I firmly support Obama’s call for Americans to be more responsible with their money. I was less than responsible for letting my account go overdrawn by $23. Thankfully, my wife and I make decent money and can cover this amount. Just think how American’s with lesser incomes would struggle with this. Then realize that this a core profit center for BofA.
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