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Study: Banks Fail To Provide Fee Info

Banks withholding information about fees? That’s not really shocking news to us.

PIRG found 23% of banks wouldn't hand over fee information to researchersNow we have proof.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group tested the theory by sending researchers into the field to record what bankers told them.

Posing as potential new customers, PIRG researchers recently surveyed 392 bank branches in 21 states to see how many complied with the Truth in Savings Act and did their legal duty by fully disclosing fees.

Surprise! Fewer than 38% of bank branches provided researchers with fee schedules. If researchers asked two or more times, that number went up to 55%.

Twenty-three percent of branches refused to give fee information, said they didn’t have it or told the researcher to go online for the information. The report also says that “others provided often weighty piles of useless other brochures.”

The report included some eye-opening anecdotes about what researchers encountered when they asked for a fee schedule:

  • New York: “We don’t USUALLY give these out.”
  • Georgia: This bank didn’t have one, the bank staffer said, “I don’t even have a list. Let me see if I can think of some for you off my head…”
  • New York: They made me sit down with an accounts person… He didn’t have anything he could hand me with the fees. So, I had to wait for him to print it off. Apparently it takes him ½ hour to print off a document.

Despite what’s been said about the end of free checking, PIRG found that half the banks they visited offered free checking — and another 29% had free checking options if you get paid via direct deposit. Most of these free accounts came from smaller banks and credit unions, though the report said that some big banks still have free checking.

If you’re shopping around for a new bank — and who wouldn’t given sky high big bank fees — make sure you get the truth about fees and options with free checking.

If the bank won’t provide it, go somewhere else. Shopping around is a pain, but since this is your money, it’s worth it.

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Comments (1)
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One Existing Comment
  1. Danny said:
    on April 19th at 08:57 pm

    This is not surprising. Banks do this and even worse things. Banks are no longer trustworthy and have become emboldened by the financial meltdown, not chastened. They see there are no consequences to the worst behaviors. With the low interest being paid, it’s almost not worth the headache and risk dealing with banks anymore, just purchase a floor safe or put the money under the mattress.