Banks Find Ways to Make Checking Accounts More Expensive, Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyers Say

There's a lot of (legal) pick pocketing going around, but that shouldn't mean we have to put up with it.

Remember last month when we discussed the growing cost of credit cards? In response to new legislation meant to protect consumers from unfair fees and term changes, credit card companies are lowering limits, raising rates and adding brand new costs - like an annual fee or a penalty for non-use.

Now, banks are getting in on the action by becoming greedier with their checking accounts. Unlike a credit card - which, believe it or not, you can choose whether or not to use - checking accounts are pretty much a necessity now that we don't hide our cash under the mattress like Grandma did. So it was a little disturbing when I noticed my former bank had started charging a $9 account maintenance fee each month.

I was told I could avoid the fee by keeping my balance above $1,500 - which, according to the bank representative I spoke with, most customers had no problem with. Sorry, lady, but I do. Hey, I try to keep some cash for emergencies, but between the regular bills, investing my savings, and unexpected costs here and there, I can't always leave $1,500 untouched in my account. My bank isn't the only one making things difficult. Until recently, many banks would waive these monthly fees if you had direct deposit. But companies like Citibank are doing away with that option.

But rather than accept the fact that banks are charging us for being customers, why not do something about it? I did. I switched to a bank that doesn't take my money for no reason.

Talk to your bank and see if they can make an exception based on your situation. Many banks offer free accounts if you open them online. If that's not an option, ask what is - or go elsewhere. You work too hard for your paycheck to let it go to something like "account maintenance."

There's another way to protect what's yours - bankruptcy. If you're handing so much over to creditors each month that paying for the mortgage, groceries or electricity is a struggle, it's time to take back your paycheck. Bankruptcy can allow you to manageably reduce your debt burden while protecting you from creditor harassment - and foreclosure. To find out more, why not try a free one-on-one debt analysis with one of Atlanta bankruptcy lawyers? No ridiculous fees included.

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