Study: Largest U.S. banks still charge high overdraft fees

By:  Kevin McCoy

Most major U.S. banks continue to charge high fees when customers overdraft their accounts, according to a new report issued Tuesday.

More than two out of five banks also rearrange their processing of account holders' transactions with a procedure that maximizes overdraft fees, said the report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent, non-profit organization.

A separate review of overdraft programs at a selection of smaller U.S. banks found many practices are largely comparable to those of larger banks, the report also concluded.

Some of the findings echo previous studies of the issue, including a 2008 analysis by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study in 2013. The new results show a need for banks to institute new policies that prevent their widely-offered "courtesy" overdraft programs "from being costly and unsustainable forms of short-term credit for many financially vulnerable consumers, said Nick Bourke, director of Pew's consumer finance project.

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