By John O’Dell
So the banks with their greed got us into the housing mess. Yes, you can say, well it was the mortgage brokers or the real estate agents that did it. But no, the banks made the rules for the mortgage brokers. No documentation, low down payment, the test to get a mortgage was to put a mirror to the nose of a person and if there was steam on the glass, the bank approved the mortgage! They have the final say, you know, as to will they loan the money or not.
So what else can we expect of our friendly banks? Well how about them collecting $22.9 billion in penalty fees in 2009. That’s billions, not millions, in penalty fees, that doesn’t include the 18-30 percent interest they charge the consumer for use of credit cards. Checking account fees, late fees, fees for check cashing, ATM fees and the list goes on as they continue their relentless ways to come up with more ways to gouge the consumer.
You can expect the banks to bombard you with new fees and products in 2010 as they try to replace more than $50 billion in revenue wiped out by new rules that clamp down on certain business practices. (read predatory)
So far, the changes are mostly concentrated in checking accounts and credit cards. In addition to attaching new fees to old products, banks are introducing new types of accounts that they hope will reel in new customers and reduce their funding costs.
For plastic, the new rules go into effect in February as part of the Credit Card Act of 2009. The rules will limit some interest-rate increases, require more disclosure to customers and prohibit banks from raising interest rates on current balances unless a customer is at least 60 days behind in a payment.
Credit-card companies already have been racing to slip new fees and practices into customer contracts ahead of the law. Issuers are closing accounts, switching cards with fixed interest rates to variable rates and introducing cards that have an annual fee.
So the one thing you can expect from the banks, is that they will nickel and dime us to the tune of billions of dollars in 2010. What do you think?
John O’Dell is a licensed real estate broker and specializes in residential and land sales.