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MAJORITY OF AMERICANS READY TO CHANGE BANKS
IF FEES INCREASE

Washington, DC - The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) March online poll queried consumers regarding what they would do if their bank raised the fees on their checking account. The majority, 51 percent, indicated they would shop for another bank.

"Even though banks are considering ways to recoup monies lost due to recent regulations, they nonetheless need to retain customers," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. "The results of the survey send a strong signal that consumers are ready to walk if fees are imposed. Money is still tight in many households, with consumers watching how every penny is spent, including even seemingly small amounts such as bank fees."

A disturbing result from the survey revealed that 16 percent of those polled would probably never notice if the fee increased, indicating a definite lack of attention paid to basic personal finance skills such as reading the monthly bank statement. Equally unsettling is that 11 percent would simply grin and bear it, perhaps fatalistically accepting the fees as a part of today's financial reality.

Sixteen percent of respondents will at least let their opinion be known by complaining to the bank if fees are hiked.

Only six percent of those weighing in indicated that they would show their displeasure by closing their account and begin using a pre-paid debit card. Such cards can be useful tools, particularly for those who have a tarnished credit file or need to control their spending. Although many do not check the applicant's credit prior to issuing the card, consumers choosing to utilize this option should read the agreement's fine print, as pre-paid debit cards may assess monthly fees, thus not offering the desired safe haven from checking account fees.

The actual survey question and results are as follows:

If my bank raised the fees on my checking account, I would
  1. Probably never notice = 16%
  2. Grin and bear it = 11%
  3. Shop for another bank = 51%
  4. Complain to them = 16%
  5. Close my account and begin using a pre-paid debt card = 6%
If you have questions about your personal finances, reach out to a trained and certified credit counselor. To be automatically connected with the NFCC Member Agency closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or go online to www.DebtAdvice.org. For assistance in Spanish, dial (800) 682-9832.

Note: The NFCC's March Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC Web site (www.DebtAdvice.org) from March 1 - 31, 2011 and was answered by 2,172 individuals.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation's largest and longest serving national nonprofit credit counseling organization. The NFCC's mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior and build capacity for its Members to deliver the highest quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC Members annually help over three million consumers through close to 800 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit www.nfcc.org. Visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NFCCDebtAdvice and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NFCCDebtAdvice.
The NFCC Vision is to create a national culture of financial responsibility.
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