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Banks gear up for Biden, battling billions in overdraft fees.

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TLDR:

– The Biden administration is expected to propose rules to further restrict banks’ ability to charge customers overdraft fees.
– Banks have drastically reduced overdraft fees in recent years, but still collect around $8 billion annually.
– The administration has prioritized cracking down on “junk fees” like overdraft charges.

The fight over billions of dollars in overdraft fees is escalating between the banking industry and the Biden administration. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is set to propose rules that will limit the ability of banks to charge customers a fee when their bank accounts are overdrawn. The move comes as part of the administration’s campaign against “junk fees,” and the Biden administration has directed regulatory bodies to take action against the practice. While banks have significantly reduced overdraft fees over the past decade, the largest banks still collect roughly $8 billion in fees each year.

Overdraft fees are charged when a customer’s bank account balance falls below zero, often resulting in high fees for minor purchases. In response to public and political pressure, many big banks have implemented safeguards to prevent excessive overdraft fees and have reduced fees for insufficient funds. However, smaller banks and credit unions have been slower to make changes, with some relying heavily on overdraft fees for profitability. Critics argue that the cost to banks to cover routine purchases is low, making the fees unjustifiable, especially considering that households with lower incomes and communities of color are disproportionately hit by overdraft charges.

The CFPB, led by Director Rohit Chopra, has been a vocal critic of overdraft fees. The bureau has released reports highlighting industry abuses and signaling its readiness to take action. The banking industry is preparing for a legal challenge to any rules implemented by the CFPB and hopes to delay regulatory action until after the 2024 election, when a potential Republican Congress and president could overturn the regulations using the Congressional Review Act. The industry is also attempting to sway public opinion and gain support from elected officials to oppose any new rules.

In summary, the battle over overdraft fees continues to heat up as the Biden administration looks to further restrict banks’ ability to charge customers. While some progress has been made in reducing fees, particularly among larger banks, the issue remains a contentious one, with implications for consumers and financial institutions alike.

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