Banks Are Back to Old Tricks and New Fees after Financial Reform Bill Passes

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em - at least, that's what big banks are doing.

After their effort to stop the financial reform bill failed with the overhaul's passage Thursday, banks have no choice but to play along - but they're playing on their own terms, according to Chicago bankruptcy laywers. That's bad news for the many folks struggling with large debts.

For instance, new debit rules in the legislation decrease the interchange fee - the amount that retailers must pay to banks for debit card transactions. So while more retailers might start accepting debit - a benefit for consumers who want more payment options - banks plan to make us pay elsewhere.

That's right, financial institutions are slapping new fees on checking accounts to make up for their lost debit card profits. As has been predicted for months, banks are eliminating free checking by adding account maintenance fees, higher minimum balances and other penalties.

Of course, there might still be ways to opt out. In many cases, setting up direct deposit or signing up for a debit card will get account fees waived. Another option may be accepting decreased services. Bank of America just introduced a free account that limits customers to ATM banking - no teller windows allowed - and online statements.

Just because the government is regulating the financial industry doesn't mean they're protecting your personal finances. It's still up to us - the consumers - to read the fine print, be aware of what's on our statements and know our options. If your bank is charging you a new fee, ask what you can do to get it waived. If they refuse to play ball, look into switching to a bank with a better deal.

If you're looking for immediate financial relief, the reform bill probably can't do much - but bankruptcy can. If you've got too much debt to pay down on your own, bankruptcy might be able to provide the affordable payment plan - and legal protection - you need to find financial freedom. Get started today at no cost when you try a free personal debt analysis with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney.

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