Atlanta Bankruptcy Attorneys Wonder What Happened to Free Checking

If banks have their way, free checking could become a thing of the past. But we don't have to accept it without a fight.

You know how I discussed the way credit card companies have been hiking up rates in light of the new consumer protection legislation? Since they can no longer charge unfair fees or trick us with sneaky term changes, they're finding other ways to make us pay - i.e., annual maintenance fees and lower credit card limits.

Well, banks seem to be headed down the same path. With Congress discussing some sort of protection against overdraft fees - those sneaky charges banks hit us with when we accidentally charge more on our debit cards than we have in our account - banks are starting to look for other sources of income. After all, most of their profits these days come from fees, not lending. And their latest source of money is the monthly maintenance fee.

Not that charging for account maintenance (whatever that means) is entirely new. But until recently, most banks offered a few ways to waive the fees - for instance, direct deposit or keeping a small minimum balance. Not so today. In fact, I just switched companies after my former bank upped its minimum balance to $1,500. I just can't guarantee that I'll always have that much money in my account, and I'm not willing to pay the $9 monthly fee if I don't.

Don't let your bank take advantage of your financial situation. Remember, you're a customer. They're supposed to meet your needs, not the other way around. If they're dinging you with fees left and right, it's time to make a change. Keep a close eye on your account so you notice immediately when you're being charged a new fee - and then find out why. Ask your bank if there's something you can do to waive the new fees. Many banks - including my new one - offer free checking when you open an account online. If one company doesn't make you happy, find one that does. It's time you took back control of your hard-earned dollars.

Speaking of forking over your paycheck, how would you like to reduce the amount that goes to creditors each month? Sure, bank fees hurt when you're struggling to make the bills each month - but for most folks, the heart of the problem is debt and the interest that goes with it. Fortunately, bankruptcy offers a reliable way to eliminate your debt obligation and protect you from creditor actions like lawsuits and repossession - even foreclosure. And it's your right as a U.S. citizen.

So why not try a free personal debt analysis with one of our Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys? You've got nothing to lose - and your own money to gain.

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