A Bank Fee That’s So Insulting, It’s Unbelievable

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If you sue your bank, you may be required to pay the bank’s legal fees -- even if you win.

Looking to settle a dispute with your bank? Your options are likely limited.

Chances are your bank has a so-called mandatory binding arbitration agreement in its checking contract – the voluminous, 40-plus-page document that you signed and probably didn’t read. (You’re not alone. Ninety percent of consumers don’t read all of it, according to MarketWatch.)

A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 70 percent of banks, up from 58 percent in 2013, have verbiage in their contracts that prevents customers from suing the bank on their own or as part of a class-action lawsuit.

As if that’s not bad enough, some banks require that consumers who bring suit against the bank will have to pay the bank’s expenses, no matter who wins the case, MarketWatch said.

You read that correctly: If you take your bank to court to settle a claim and you win, you may have to pay your bank’s legal expenses. The “loss, costs and expenses” clause is included in the fine print of about 1 in 4 banks’ checking account contracts.

According to the Consumerist, most large banks include the arbitration clause in their checking agreements, while smaller banks don’t.

Check out Pew’s ratings of the best and worst banks based on key consumer protections, including dispute resolution verbiage. Click here to access Pew’s Check and Balances Report for 2014.

How does your bank rate for consumer protections in Pew’s report? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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