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What To Do If Your Check Bounces

By: Jason Markum

If you are one of the unlucky ones to recently have a check bounce, you may be absolutely amazed at the size of the fee that the bank charged you for a bounced check
. It may have been $10 and it may have been $15 and it may have even been $25 or more depending on the bank. Now there is legislation that has been passed by Congress to help you out in this area but those changes don’t go into effect for a few months.

Doesn’t it seem weird to you with all the technology banks possess, they don’t seem to have the simple technology that will handle a stop check cheaply? Why does it cost so much money when you bounce a check? There is no reason why it should. Of course, the reason is simple. Bounced check fees are major profit centers for the banks. Whether this is right or wrong morally is a different question for different article; it simply is and that’s what we have to worry about.

So what can you do if you bounce a check? The bank just takes the money out of your account, that is to say, they take the fee for your bounced check right out of your account. Many people would consider this trespassing or theft! Of course, it is not because you signed an agreement with the bank when you opened your account allowing them to do this…

But, there is hope…

If the overdraft fee was the result of a bank error such as losing track of a deposit or maybe charging some other customers check to your account or something like this that was the fault of the bank, you should absolutely demand that they not only take off the fee but they should also send a letter to each person that tried to cash your check and wasn’t able to, explaining that the bank was at fault and not you. What I’m talking about here is if you paid your electric bill with a check and it bounced because of a bank error, the bank should send a letter to the electric company explaining that it wasn’t your fault that the that the check bounced.

This way the electric company doesn’t charge you a late fee or a bounced check fee or doesn’t hurt your account in some way.

Of course, the bank will NOT want to do that. So what should you do? First of all be firm and be persistent. If whoever you’re talking to isn’t being helpful go over their head and talk with their supervisor, talk to the branch manager, talk to whoever you have to and don’t stop talking until you get what you deserve.

Don’t forget about small claims court and don’t be shy about letting the banks know that you are willing to go to small claims court to settle this matter. Small claims court doesn’t require a lawyer, it’s basically just people like you with small grievances standing in front of a judge and explaining what happened in everyday language. Of course it doesn’t cost you any money in lawyers fees because you won’t need a lawyer, but the bank almost certainly will need a lawyer to defend itself because banks are institutions with shareholders and responsibilities and they can’t just walk in any court without a lawyer. So very often just the threat of small claims court is enough to get the bank to do what you want especially if it’s obvious that it was a bank error to begin with.

If the current small claims court doesn’t work there’s always the threat of larger court and class-action lawsuits. Of course this may cost you some money and definitely more time as you will definitely need to hire a lawyer for the sort of thing hopefully the threat of this is enough for you to win.

Of course if your overdraft is completely a result of your OWN negligence, that is to say, it was your own fault, you may just have to grin and bear it and pay the fee. And look for a new bank that either doesn’t charge overdraft fees or charges much less costly overdraft fees.

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