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|Consumer Alert: Be Aware of Service Charge Fees|
The Department of Banking and Insurance is advising New Jersey residents to be aware that some banks and other depository institutions operating in New Jersey have charges associated with various services. You are entitled to receive a printed list of all service charges. Some financial institutions charge fees for cashing checks drawn on an account maintained at that institution, if the person seeking to cash the check does not have an account with that bank. Specifically, consumers should be aware if checks they write as gifts will cause the recipient of those gifts to be assessed a fee when they cash them. The Department encourages all consumers to make the necessary inquiries and learn about any service fees they may be charged before attempting to negotiate any checks. Consumers have a choice about paying service charges and being fully informed can save you money.
If a service charge is imposed when trying to cash a check where the consumer does not have an account you should consider taking the check to a financial institution in which you maintain an account, as no fees are charged in that situation. Consumers who do not currently have an account should be aware that most financial institutions operating in New Jersey offer a “consumer checking account,” also known as a “lifeline” account, which is an extremely low fee account offered to encourage New Jersey citizens to have their own bank account. By having their own bank account consumers can avoid paying service fees when cashing or depositing checks.
In addition, consumers have other choices to avoid service fees. In many cases, the financial institutions where an employer maintains its payroll checking account may offer a free checking identification card to employees of the company and will, upon presentation of the card and other identification, cash checks payable to such employees without charging a service fee. Another option is to speak to a manager at the financial institution that intends to charge a service fee. That individual may have the authority to waive or lower a service charge.
Lastly, consumers are urged to review the financial literacy information posted on the Department’s website at www.njdobi.org in order to be an informed consumer of financial services.
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| Copyright © 2008,
State of New Jersey
New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance