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Bank Overdrafts Can Make Financial Trouble Worse

October 13, 2010

Every day is a new opportunity to make good financial decisions.  If your income has been significantly reduced, one decision that may help is to ensure that your bank does not charge you overdraft fees on your debit card purchases.


A new federal banking regulation that took effect July 1, 2010 requires banks to obtain a customer’s consent before charging overdraft fees for debit card purchases whenever there are not sufficient funds to cover those purchases.  Consumers who do not “opt-in” may have their debit cards declined at the cash register. 


When an individual suddenly has a reduction of income, it is often difficult to keep track of monthly finances.  This could result in bank overdrafts.  A $5.00 burger and soda could wind up costing $35 or $40 after bank fees are assessed.  In some cases overdraft fees can quickly multiply to hundreds of dollars.  Additionally, some banks charge negative balance fees that may be assessed on a daily basis.  A prolonged negative balance could result in closure of the account and a consumer report to Chex Systems, making it more difficult to open another bank account.


Bank fees are avoidable debts that can only complicate a bankruptcy case.  Many debtors in bankruptcy want to maintain a good relationship with their local bank, and consequently will pay the bank debt.  In cases where the debt is not paid, a new bank may not agree to open a new account for you until the debt to your former bank is paid – regardless of whether that debt was discharged in bankruptcy.


When money is extremely tight, consider using cash to pay for ordinary purchases like lunch, groceries, or gas.  Cash may be less convenient than using your debit card, but it is easier to keep track of your money and see how it is being spent.


If you are experiencing financial difficulties due to a sudden reduction of income, consider opting out of overdraft fees from your bank.  A small inconvenience at the cash register could save you from a considerable headache later.  Your bankruptcy attorney can advise you on additional ways to avoid further difficulties by making to adjustments to your finances.  Consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and learn how the federal bankruptcy laws can help you.

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