Bank and credit union revenue from overdraft fees reached $24 billion last year, up 35 percent from two years earlier, according to a study by the Center for Responsible Lending.
Using figures gathered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the consumer advocacy group reported Tuesday that revenue from overdraft fees was up $6.2 billion from 2006.
The group expects revenue from such fees to hit $26 billion by the end of 2009.
According to the study, about 51 million Americans annually spend more money than they have in their checking accounts, triggering an overdraft or an insufficient-funds fee.
The most common trigger of overdraft fees is small debit card transactions that could easily be denied for no fee, the study found.
The fees have sparked criticism in Washington as members of Congress have argued that the fees amount to high-interest loans. Legislation has been introduced that would force financial institutions to get permission from customers rather than automatically approving transactions and charging fees when checking accounts bottom out.
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