Of all the bank fees that customers love to hate, overdraft charges on checking accounts have to be near the top. The government's new consumer protection agency appears to agree.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wednesday that it will investigate overdraft fees, including how they are marketed and explained to customers. It said the probe could result in additional rules, perhaps even lawsuits.
Overdraft fees are charged by banks when customers try to spend more than they have in an account. Banks allow the transaction, then charge the customer a penalty of as much as $35.
Banks collected $29.5 billion in revenue from overdraft fees in 2011, according to researchers.
Richard Cordray, the agency's director, and representatives from four consumer advocacy groups said that the overdraft fees hurt the people who can least afford them because poorer customers are more likely to drain their checking accounts to close to zero.