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CFPB Targets Junk Fees by Banks

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Oct 28, 2022

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is taking aim at so-called “junk fees” that banks charge, costing consumers billions of dollars, CNBC reported.

The announcement by the CFPB specifically targeted surprise depositor and surprise overdraft fees, which the agency said “likely violate the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition on unfair practices when consumers cannot reasonably avoid them.”

“When a consumer deposits a check that bounces, banks sometimes charge a fee to the depositor, usually in the range of $10 to $19. However, a person trying to deposit a check has no idea or control over whether the check will clear,” the announcement said. “Charging a fee to the depositor penalizes the person who could not anticipate the check would bounce, while doing nothing to deter the originator from writing bad checks.”

In the case of an overdraft fee, that “can become a surprise fee when the customer doesn’t reasonably expect their actions to incur an overdraft fee,” the announcement said.

At a White House press briefing, junk fees were categorized as either mandatory fees that often hide the full price, surprise fees that consumers learn about after purchase, exploitative or predatory fees, or fraudulent fees.

Last month, the CFPB ordered Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Bank to refund at least $141 million to customers who were charged surprise overdraft fees on certain ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases from August 2018 through July 2021. It also ordered the bank to pay a $50 million penalty, which will be deposited into the Bureau’s Civil Penalty Fund.

Many banks have instituted more consumer-friendly policies in the past year, such as eliminating overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees, according to CNBC.

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