For many people, banking seems like a necessary evil. They don't relish the idea of needing to store their money outside their home or pay someone to access it, but the security and convenience of a bank account is almost necessary. While it is possible to get by without a bank account, that usually means that you have to pay a lot of money to cash checks and purchase money orders to pay bills.
The fees and costs associated with a standard bank account may seem reasonable compared with the hassle that people have to go through to avoid opening a bank account. In some cases, however, the bank actually has an abusive or inappropriate policy for fees that ends up having a negative effect on customers.
In the most egregious cases, the federal government may take steps to hold banks accountable for questionable fee policies that impact customers. Consumers and businesses alike need to monitor banks and other financial institutions for bad behavior.
The federal government can sue banks
There are federal watchdog organizations intended to ensure that banking is safe, accessible and fair for Americans. These organizations often have the right to bring a lawsuit against a banking institution that violates its duty to consumers. In one of the more shocking recent enforcement actions, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau brought a lawsuit against TCF Financial Corporation in 2017.
The regulatory agency filed the lawsuit when it uncovered the fact that the organization was raking in roughly $180 million every year just in fees. Consumers had to pay as much as $35 per overdraft. The crux of the lawsuit in this case was the fact that the bank attempted to trick customers into participating in overdraft protection programs.
Consumers have the legal option of refusing such protections, but the way that TCF handled opening accounts made people believe they had no choice but to agree to allow overdraft features on their accounts. The end result was millions of dollars and fees by individuals who may not have otherwise allowed the bank to overdraft their money.
Consumers and businesses can hold unscrupulous banks accountable
Businesses, specifically corporations, have many of the rights of individuals, so they can bring lawsuits against other companies that act inappropriately. A company or individual negatively impacted by a bank's illegal or highly questionable fee policies may have grounds to seek compensation from the bank.
Any consumer dealing with fraud or questionable business practices should explore their legal rights. Failing to do so could allow an unethical business to target and manipulate more people in the future. By standing up for yourself or your company, you not only hold unscrupulous companies accountable, but you also protect other people from falling victim to the same scheme.