Hampton Roads consumers stand to save money as some banks reduce or eliminate ‘junk fees’

“Junk fees” drain tens of billions of dollars each year from Americans’ budgets, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The costs to consumers can appear in various forms, including late penalty, overdraft, return, out-of-network ATM, money transfer and inactivity fees.

Now, some Hampton Roads banks have reduced their consumer fees while others have eliminated some charges altogether.

The changes come after such fees have come under the scrutiny of U.S. lawmakers and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a regulatory agency for national banks, expressed concern about the effect of overdraft fees on lower income individuals late last year.

Suffolk-based Towne Bank examined the consumer fees immediately and initiated three big changes on April 1, President and Chief Operating Officer Brad Schwartz said.

Towne totally eliminated the $42 fee for non-sufficient funds and the $13 fee associated with transferring funds from a savings account to a checking account if there’s an overdraft. The bank now allows up to $50 to be overdrawn without charging any fees, Schwartz said.

“We know with inflation and gas prices, that it’s even tougher out there. The focus was on trying to help people who frequently just didn’t have enough funds in their account,” Schwartz said. “This was income we used to earn, but we decided it was the right thing to do.”

Richmond-based Atlantic Union Bank reviews its overdraft and insufficient fund fees and practices on a regular basis to determine any enhancements based on developments in the industry and customer expectations, said Alison Holt-Fuller, head of product and enterprise first line risk management.

Effective in the third quarter, Atlantic Union eliminated its non-sufficient fund fee for consumer deposit…

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