Nightly News | June 14, 2012
>>> now to a story about your money and maybe your bank. some of the new regulations on banks have been eating into their profits so they're finding new ways to make money from the people who put their money in the bank . our report from our senior investigative correspondent lisa myers .
>> what do you think the owl said?
>> who, who.
>> that's right.
>> reporter: like many americans, steve dolan's family lives on the financial edge. he checks his bank account all the time. this week he accidently overdrew his account by $150. he got hit with $102 in penalties.
>> the $102 is a significant portion of our income.
>> reporter: in addition to two overdraft penalties, dolan was charged $34 for bouncing a $28 check.
>> i think it's unfair, predatory, i think they're attacking the working class .
>> reporter: a new report on the biggest banks and credit unions found that excessive overdraft costs and sometimes hidden fees are putting families at financial risk with penalties that can run hundreds of dollars.
>> it's important that a product like a checking account be something that can be easily understood and not be wrapped with hidden fees that a consumer can't keep track of.
>> reporter: yet, the report also found that the typical checking account now can have as many as three dozen fees, some of them exotic, the empty envelope fee, self-service fee, even a fee for counting coins.
>> we don't know what a lot of these fees are but they are in the disclosure.
>> reporter: buried in checking account disclosure agreements which now run a median of 69 pages. richard hunt is a spokesman for the banking industry . but a 69-page disclosure?
>> we don't like it. we don't like it.
>> reporter: do you think any consumer can comprehend it?
>> i know i can't.
>> reporter: why do you do it?
>> we have to. all of the regulations passed by congress and the regulators force us to do so.
>> reporter: two banks have moved to simpler disclosures. banks say they are under financial pressure that have cost them $250 to provide a checking account and they have to recover the money some way. consumers can take a dispute to arbitration but there is a catch here, too. some banks have buried in the fine print a requirement that the consumer pay all the bank's expenses and attorney fees even if the bank loses. lisa myers , nbc news, washington.