In the last few years, banks have received national attention for a number of unfair practices, from questionable overdraft charges for recurring payments to reordering of credits and debits to push customers into overdraft, allowing the banks to collect bank overdraft fees.
Another issue some consumers are reporting with their banks is the assessment of multiple NSF fees, or non-sufficient funds fees, for a single transaction. Shamis & Gentile, P.A. is investigating bank overdraft and NSF Fees charged by PENFED Credit Union, Bank United, Central Valley Community Bank, TriCounties Bank, Valley National Bank and many other banks and credit unions.
Setting up automatic bill pay for those monthly recurring payments or bills can simplify your life, or it can cause you a headache when you are hit with an overdraft fee.
Shamis & Gentile, P.A. is investigating banks who are charging their clients for overdraft fees when a recurring payment causes your account to go into overdraft.
For example: a customer may be charged more than one overdraft fee for a single recurring transaction that fails to go through. Essentially, the bank would charge one NSF (or overdraft fee) as it should, after the transaction fails to go through initially. But then, a bank might attempt to process the recurring transaction a second time soon thereafter, already knowing the account has insufficient funds, thus being able to charge a second NSF (or overdraft fee).
An example of this would be you have $50 in your account. Your membership at your gym tries to do its monthly payment of $65. Your bank hits you with an NSF fee (or overdraft fee) of $35 because there isn’t enough money to cover the transaction. THEN – the very next day your gym tries the recurring payment again, and your bank hits you with another $35 NSF fee (or overdraft fee).
One tactic that banks are accused of using to increase their profits from overdraft fees is reordering transactions on accounts. That means that regardless of what order transactions occurred in on a single day, some banks process the largest transactions first. That can lead to a lot in extra fees for a person to pay.
For example, say a man spends $10, $20, $50 and $100 (in that order) in four transactions on one day, having $140 in his account. Either way, the account will likely still go into overdraft. But, if the account is debited in the order the purchases occurred, then only the final transaction will result in an overdraft fee of $35. However, if the transactions are processed from largest to smallest, then only the $100 purchase will be covered, leaving the customer to pay $35 for each of the final three transactions—for a total of $105 in charges.
Not all banks charge a flat $35 overdraft fee. Fees run from $19 up to $35. Some banks have tiered overdraft fees, so that the first overdraft transaction in a certain period costs one amount but any more overdraft transactions cost more.
NSF stands for non-sufficient funds. An NSF fee is a charge that a bank makes against a customer’s account a transaction they attempt to make fails to go through, or is returned. For this reason, an NSF fee is also sometimes called a returned item fee.
The practices of charging an NSF fee may sound similar to another type of bank fee that is both quite common and has been the subject of a slew of lawsuits: overdraft fees. But a bank only charges overdraft fees when a person has already opted into an overdraft protection program, and the customer overdraws their account. Lawsuits allege that some banks use deceptive overdraft policies to maximize the amount of money they can wring out of customers.
Some consumers affected by these practices have taken to litigation, alleging that they were unfairly charged multiple NSF fees by their banks. One plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit in March 2018, alleging that Bank of America charged her and numerous other customers multiple NSF fees. In this case, the plaintiff was allegedly charged two $35 NSF fees over the course of two days after the bank resubmitted the transaction too early.
According to this class action lawsuit, Bank of America has the “contractual discretion to reject transfer attempts. There is absolutely no reason to attempt a transaction it knows will fail—except to maximize its fee revenue.”
If you were unfairly charged multiple NSF fees for a single transaction by credit unions or banks such as HSBC, Banco Popular, Valley national and many more you may be able to join a class action lawsuit investigation.
If you were charged multiple bank overdraft fees or returned item fees (also known as NSF fees or insufficient funds fees) on the same transaction by your bank, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Shamis & Gentile, P.A. by submitting your information today!
The overdraft protection law stops banks from automatically enrolling customers in overdraft coverage. The coverage allows banks to process transactions when customers have insufficient funds. Banks usually charge a fee for each of these transactions.
In 2010, the Federal Reserve declared that by default a bank must reject transactions if an account lacks sufficient funds. However, customers can choose to change the default status and opt-in to overdraft coverage, if the bank offers the service. Transactions would be approved, but the bank could charge fees.
The law only applies to transactions that are not pre-authorized, such as ATM withdrawals and debit card transactions. Pre-authorized withdrawals, such as automatic bill payments and checks, do not fall under the umbrella of the overdraft protection law and can still lead to overdraft charges.
Overdraft protection provides the customer with a valuable tool to manage their checking account. If you’re short a few dollars on your rent payment, overdraft protection ensures that you won’t have a check returned for insufficient funds, which would reflect poorly on your ability to pay. However, banks provide the service because of how they benefit from it – namely, by charging a fee. As such, customers should be sure to use the overdraft protection sparingly and only in an emergency.
The dollar amount of overdraft protection varies by account and by the bank. There are pros and cons to using overdraft protection. Often, the customer needs to request the addition of overdraft protection. If the overdraft protection is used excessively, the financial institution can remove the protection from the account.
Yes. Many transactions are processed overnight. These transactions may not be reflected in an available balance. This is why it’s important to keep a current and accurate check/transaction register and balance it to your monthly statement. A bank’s online, telephone or ATM balances are for information purposes only – they do not replace your check/transaction register.
On checking accounts, banks generally post deposits before withdrawals. However, the law does not require this. In addition, banks may establish a cutoff time for deposits made at a branch or through an ATM. Deposits made after that time may be treated as having been made on the following business day.
For example, a deposit made after the Friday afternoon cutoff time would be treated as if it were made on the following Monday. So any items with next-day availability would then be available the next day (Tuesday).