Do Bank Fees Disproportionately Affect the Poor? @ Salt Lake Free Press
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Do Bank Fees Disproportionately Affect the Poor?

If you've recently tried to cash a personal check someone gave you, at the bank it was drawn on, and without your also having an account at that same bank you were likely charged a fee to do so ranging from $4.00-$7.00.

Attempts to speak with the bank manager and have the fee waived usually results in an offer by said manager to open an account so you're not forced to pay the fee. How many bank accounts do you need really, and you can't possibly open one at each institution you may need or wish to cash a check with.

In this writers opinion these types of fees are disproportionate, likely affecting those who can least afford these fees like those who bank week to week. Bank depositors with ample savings or fiscal resources typically pay the least in check cashing fees or have negotiation room to reduce or eliminate the fees.

What interestsí this writer is that bank charters are required for each branch to open, and under the federal Community Reinvestment Act they are required to serve their customer base, offering services tailored to meet the needs of its customers and potential customers in their local communities. Itís obvious with such fees as the check cashing fee that these institutions are failing to meet their obligations.

One bank in California closed its least profitable bank branches only to buy into an existing check cashing operation that then expanded operations in its former branch locations. Luckily this obvious fraud was challenged by community leaders and state officials.

Recent bad press and the down economy have presented banks with an opportunity to deal with their customers in a fair, equitable manner going forward. A report by NBC news this past winter resulted in drastic changes, compared with years past to Bank of Americaís Overdraft Policy, and instituted an option that customers be given the chance to decline so-called courtesy overdraft fees.

It should be common practice that a bank be obligated to cash checks presented for payment in-person drawn upon their institution without unnecessary fees for those who provide sufficient identification to authenticate their identity.

If these types of bank fees outrage or affect you and your familiesí budget, write to or contact your elected state officials to express your concern.


by Staff Writer / Nick J. West (February 9th, 2010)
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