According to a December 2016 consumer protection report published by the US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), 626 large banks reported collecting $8.4 billion in revenue from overdraft and insufficient fund (NSF) fees, an increase of 3.6 percent over the same period the previous year.
Some of the nation's largest banks, along with some smaller institutions, accounted for a whopping 67 percent of the total reported overdraft revenue, according to the US PIRG report:
"The 10 banks that collected the most overdraft revenue through the first three quarters of 2016, in order, were: Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, TD Bank, US Bank, PNC Bank, Suntrust Bank, Regions Bank, Branch Banking and Trust, and Woodforest National Bank."
Bank overdraft fees occur when you write a check, pay with a debit transaction or withdraw money from an ATM for an amount that exceeds your bank account balance. Banks typically charge an overdraft fee of around $35.
While these fees are common, some banks' excessive overdraft fee practices have prompted consumers to file bank overdraft fees lawsuits alleging that their bank rearranged the order of their banking transactions specifically so that the bank could charge overdraft fees. Then when the account balance drops because of the overdraft fee, the bank might charge additional overdraft fees on subsequent transactions.
A Connecticut woman sued TD Bank in January 2017 for damages of $5 million in a Shaina Dorsey v. TD Bank Case No. 1:17-cv-00074, US District Court for the District of New Jersey federal class action, alleging that the bank has a "routine practice" of wrongfully charging customers a "sustained fee" for overdrawn accounts. The sustained fee is deducted from the customer's bank account in addition to the initial $35 overdraft fee if that person's overdraft status remains in effect for ten days or more.
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The CFPB claims in the lawsuit that TCF protected $180 million in potential overdraft fee revenue by training bank employees to aggressively sell customers the opt-in while using an "uninformative script" that failed to mention fees and interfered with the consumer's ability to make an informed decision.
The US PIRG consumer report encouraged the CPFB to keep up regulatory efforts to protect consumers from unfair overdraft fees:
"The CFPB should continue its efforts to protect consumers, including by seeking a ban on the bank practice of reordering account transactions to maximize revenue."