Big Banks Add New Fees to Counter Passage of Financial Reform Bill

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again - it could be the motto of big banks following Thursday's passage of the financial regulation bill.

Banks have for months been attempting to stop the legislation, which will cut into their profits from debit card fees - and which could in turn lower prices for the many folks struggling to pay the bills, say Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys. But now that Plan A has failed, banks are turning to Plan B - shifting fees somewhere else.

Previously, banks charged stores and restaurants a penalty for accepting debit card payments. Many retailers passed the cost - about 2% of each transaction - onto consumers, or simply didn't allow debit cards. Now customers can look forward to lower prices and more retail stores that accept debit. Unfortunately, we can also look forward to paying more for our checking accounts.

The financial overhaul might as well be the final nail in the coffin of free checking. With banks unable to add unfair fees to debit cards, they're placing new unfair fees on bank accounts. Many banks have already added account maintenance fees or high minimum balance penalties, for instance.

Fortunately, banks will often waive costs for folks who sign up for direct deposit or agree to a basic account with limited services - for example, giving up teller transactions and instead using just the ATM, or accepting online statements instead of paper bills. However, banks may not provide that information voluntarily. Most of the time, it's up to you to read the fine print and check your statements to see what your bank has up their sleeve. If you notice your bank is charging a new fee, you might be able to negotiate with them - or you may decide to switch to another financial institution.

Of course, if you're carrying a lot of debt, the financial overhaul might not have much direct impact on you, no matter what fees are eliminated or added. You'll still be responsible for paying the bills and dealing with creditors. But there's another way to make an impact on your finances - bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can offer an affordable, realistic way to lower debt while legally protecting you from lenders and creditors. Get a head start on your financial future today when you try a free personal debt analysis with an Atlanta bankruptcy attorney.

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