Customers Get Even With Deceitful Banks

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — With increasing efforts by the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and some legislators in Congress to shine the light on banks’ shady and sometimes deceitful practices, you can hardly blame some bank customers for wanting to get even.

Most often, this means managing accounts and being diligent about paying credit card bills on time so as not to incur any fees or penalties. But morality aside, some of those whom banks call “deadbeat” customers take measures a step further.

For example, banks that offer cash bonuses for signing up for a checking account are ripe for abuse. If a bank offers a $150 bonus to sign up for a checking account, some customers will sign on the dotted line, fulfill all the mandates issued by the bank to claim the $150 (like setting up direct deposit or meeting a minimum balance), then close the account down as soon as they pass the threshold. Six months later, when the bank repeats the deal, guess who’s first in line to sign up?

Tactics like this don’t violate any laws, and many will forgive people for taking advantage of the system much in the same way that banks can be deceitful without actually committing any crimes.

According to a recent study from the Pew Health Group, everyday bank transaction fees for getting money out of an ATM or for overdraft protection are rising, and customers are none the wiser.

“It is exceedingly difficult for the average consumer to find the basic information needed to either select a checking account or to responsibly manage the one they currently have,” notes Shelley A. Hearne, managing director of the Pew Health Group. “We are calling on policy makers to ensure that overdraft fees are reasonable and proportional. They must also address both the length and clarity of checking account disclosures, which are often 111 pages.”