Nightly News   |  June 11, 2013

Banks rack up big overdraft fees

Overdraft fees make up a staggering 60 percent of all bank fee revenue, amounting to $32 billion a year. The average consumer who paid overdraft fees paid $225 over the course of the year in 2011. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> a government report out today makes it clear just how much this country's banks are profiting from your mistakes. we're talking about those hefty overdraft charges to cover payments when checking accounts are overdrawn. turns out the banks are making most of their fees from thighs penalties. tom costello has more for us tonight.

>> it's one of the most common financial mistakes americans make. overdrawing from their bank accounts . maybe forgetting the mortgage or car payment is about to be deducted. then sliding the debit card for groceries or a cup of coffee. soon there's an extra $30 or more to cough up. since 2010 , bankers have had to opt in for overdraft coverage. those fees make up a staggering 60% of all bank fee revenue. $32 billion a ar. richard cordray --

>> we're concerned consumers may not be able to anticipate and avoid unnecessary charges.

>> while some banks limit overdraft fees to two a day. others charge as many as 12 a day. some banks charge if the overdraft is a penny. others don't charge a fee if the amount is less than $5. in 2011 , the average customer paid $225 over the course of the year in overdraft fees.

>> the fine print is very thick on a lot of these cases. a lot of hidden fees come behind this protection.

>> banks simply refuse to pay the bill without overdraft protection . the banking industry insists 20% of its customers want even depend on the coverage.

>> many consumers need to have this product to make ends meet, to pay the bills, whether it's grocery stores or filling up the car with gas. or paying every day expenses as well.

>> to avoid paying the 235fees, experts suggest reading the opt-in coverage. backing up your checking account with a savings account just in case you go over. tom costello, nbc news, washington.