Investigating the Issues That Affect You Most

Student Says Bank's Overdraft Fees Sly, Unfair

TCF Bank in October made significant changes to its overdraft policy, lowering the NSF fee, but charging it every day

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Customers say they had no idea TCF Bank changed their overdraft policy in October. (Published Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011)

    At the student center on the Northern Illinois University campus, it’s hard to miss: a bank branch positioned centrally in the popular gathering place for students.

    "They promote their bank and that it's convenient, it's on campus, everything is perfect. Then you join," says senior Stephanie Stefanski.

    Joining, she said, was the easy part. It was the rash of unexpected overdraft fees that came this fall that changed her view of the bank and its policy toward college students.

    "We can't really afford ramen, let alone anything else," Stefanski said.

    Stefanski said she had no warning that TCF had made significant changes to its overdraft policy. She says she only learned that something had changed when she got socked with $165 in overdraft fees.

    The bank made the change back in October: the old "non-sufficient fund" fee was lowered from $35 to $28, but hit customers every day for 14 consecutive days unless -- or until -- they brought their account back up. This policy kicks in even if only one overdraft occurred.

    Stefanski said answers at the campus branch were hard to come by.

    "They have no answers but they know how to charge you," she said.

    Other customers expressed similar frustrations during NBC Chicago's original report last month.

    After that report, TCF spokesman Jason Korstange thanked NBC Chicago, saying it drove customers into branches, who then came to better understand the policy.

    For Stephanie Stefanski’s part, she says she still doesn’t understand the policy. A TCF representative called her after we inquired about her case. TCF told NBC Chicago it refunded "most" of Stefanski’s $165 in fees.

    Stefanski said the bank only wiped a portion of the fees: $60.

    "They think we're stupid almost because we are so young coming out here on our own, like we don't know how to take care of anything, we don't know any better. And we do. We know when we're being cheated," Stefanski said. "The second I graduate, this account is so closed."

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