Audio: FDIC finds high overdraft fees

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Those automatic bank overdraft programs that you may not even know you’re signed up for are costing banking customers like you billions of dollars in fees.

I’m Judy Martel with the Bankrate.com personal finance minute.

An FDIC study found that automatic overdraft fees ranged from $10 to $38, with a median fee of $27.

Most checking account customers are signed up for automatic overdraft protection whether or not they realize it. There is no signed contract and there is no guarantee on the bank’s part that the overdraft will be paid.

Most banks allow customers to opt out of the automatic program, so check with your bank to find out the best alternative for you.

There are several other ways you can pay for accidentally overdrawing your checking account.

Consumer advocates say the best method is the standard overdraft protection, which is offered when the checking account is opened, and involves a signed agreement between the bank and the customer.

It can be linked to your other accounts at the bank, and usually only incurs an average fee of $5 if you overdraw.

For more information about overdraft programs and fees, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Judy Martel.