USA Today: Bank fees add to debt problems

As more Americans face debt problems, a recent report states that certain fees banks use may be adding to consumers’ difficulties.

The report from USA Today focuses on "courtesy overdrafts," where banks will pay out transactions even if their customers do not have the funds to cover them. Then, the bank will charge the customer a fee for doing so.

The report states that some banks will process large transactions before others, a practice which drains accounts faster and increases the chance that an overdraft will occur.

Another practice used by banks which drains accounts more quickly is to account for transactions when they are made rather than when the purchases are cleared. According to the report, overdraft fees are now the largest fee-related income for banks.

"In 2009, banks are expected to reap a record $38.5 billion from overdraft fees, nearly twice the $20.5 billion they stand to collect from credit card penalties such as late and over-limit fees," the report stated.

The report from USA Today comes at a time when the American Bankers Association has reported that consumer delinquencies on credit cards are on the rise. During the first quarter of this year, delinquent accounts represented 4.75 percent of accounts, up from 4.52 percent during the previous quarter.