If you think a bank has been
unfair or misleading, dis-
criminated against you in
lending or violated a federal
consumer protection law or
regulation, you can file a
complaint with the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau
( consumerfinance.gov); the
regulatory agency listed at
the Federal Financial
Council’s Consumer Help
Center (; ec.gov); your
state’s bank regulator
search “how do I find my
state bank regulator”) or
your state’s attorney general
( naag.org; click on “
fers and payments that can be made from
savings accounts. If you exceed six per
monthly fee period, you could be charged
an excessive-activity fee.
• Keep at least ;; percent over the
minimum balance required on an account
to avoid accidental overdrafts.
• Sign up to get low-balance alerts
from your bank by email or text to avoid
overdraft and nonsufficient fund fees.
• Ask your bank if other account types
could reduce your fees. Shop banks or
credit unions for account alternatives.
Although, ultimately, you are responsible for understanding what you are
signing up for, your bank must disclose
the terms of an account and the fees
associated with a deposit account when it’s
established and give you advance notice
about fee and term changes. According
to the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau, the main disclosure exception is
for variable interest rates; banks are not
required to give you notice.
Be aware of bank
fees you’re paying
and take steps to
by AMANDA HOROWITZ
ou can’t totally avoid bank
account charges and ser-
vice fees. What you can do
is be aware of the options
available to minimize them.
Here are some tips from Fight
Back! and the executive team of
business management firm
Gettleson, Witzer & O’Connor:
• To avoid ATM fees, choose a
bank with owned and affiliated ATMs
(called “in network”) close to places you
frequent. If you travel within the U.S.,
check whether your bank has multistate
branches or affiliates. If you must use an
out-of-network ATM while on a trip, take
out larger amounts so you won’t have to
pay multiple ATM fees. Also, you can try to
avoid ATM charges by opting for cash back
when using your debit card at a retailer.
• Don’t get charged for closing an
account early. Make sure you keep a balance for the minimum amount of time the
bank requires, generally ;;; days. Check
with your financial institution for details.
• Be mindful of how your activities
could result in bank fees. Examples are
returned-mail fees from undeliverable
mail because you moved without telling
the bank, paper statement charges
because you did not elect online-only
alternatives, wire fees when you could
use ACH (Automated Clearing House,
a financial network used for electronic
payments and money transfers) or a
check, or inactivity fees because you kept
an old and unused account open.
• Use a third-party check printing
service instead of banks’ typically higher
costs for printing checks.
• A federal regulation places a limit on
the number of certain withdrawals, trans-
Federal law states that bank
fee disclosures must be
presented in a format that
allows consumers to readily
understand the account terms.
is a writer, businesswoman and owner
of Fight Back! She is
the daughter of Fight
Back!’s founder, David
Horowitz. Fight Back!
has received multiple
Emmy Awards and
over 400 awards
from government and
citizen groups and
has helped to draft
over 50 pieces of
legislation in America.
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