The study, conducted by Bankrate (www.bankrate.com) is part of the company's annual Checking Survey. It found that the average overdraft fee (called a nonsufficient funds fee by industry insiders) increased again in 2011 to $30.83. That is up from $30.47 in 2010 and marks the 13th straight year of increases. Although the average fee continues to rise, the rate of that growth is slowing down, possibly the result of regulations that prevent banks from automatically enrolling customers in overdraft protection programs.
Meanwhile, according to the South Florida Business Journal (09/26/11), Denver had the highest overdraft fees at $33.50, followed by Miami with $33.05.
Data for the Bankrate study came from surveys of the five largest banks and five largest thrifts in 25 of the biggest markets in the US from August 1, 2011 through August 12, 2011.
READ MORE BANK OVERDRAFT FEE LEGAL NEWS
Lawsuits have been filed against banks, alleging they use unfair practices to push customers into overdraft too quickly, allowing the banks to increase their profits from overdraft fees. According to Bloomberg (09/28/11), one lawsuit, involving allegations against 30 banks, was put on hold recently after a judge ruled that banks cannot force customers into arbitration to pursue claims. A spokesperson for the banks said they would file an appeal. The judge then delayed the trial so an appeals court can review his ruling.
In February 2011, Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay $410 million to settle claims brought by its customers regarding its overdraft policies. The bank did not admit liability.