Deadline draws near for bank overdraft opt-ins - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Deadline draws near for bank overdraft opt-ins

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Time is running out for consumers to make a big banking decision. Consumers need to decide if they want overdraft protection before the changes take place August 15th.

The new financial reform is more than 2,000 pages. A lot of it affects the banks more than it does the people, but when it comes to the new overdraft protection regulations, it affects everybody.

Debit cards have become a way of life for most of us, but with today's economy sometimes there's not enough in the account to cover the swipe. Right now, most banks will cover that purchase and then charge you a fee for overdrawing your account, but new federal regulations are changing the way banks handle overdrafts.

President and CEO of Gateway Bank and Trust Robert Peck says, "if you have a debit card transaction and you happen to go negative by two cents or two dollars, the bank will not pay that option unless you've opted in."

If you chose not to take your bank's overdraft protection, your card will be declined before you overdraft, no matter what the situation, but if you opt in, you're only charged if you overdraft.

"If the customer doesn't use it, it doesn't cost them anything. We would encourage all customers of all institutions to opt in to give you that safeguard or safety net to protect your transactions," says Peck.

Not everybody will choose to opt in, only 52 percent of Gateway Bank customers have.

Cindy Coppage belongs to a different bank. Someone hacked her account and caused her several overdraft fees last year. She says if her card was declined she wouldn't have lost as much as she did.

"I don't know how they got my information, but they did. I think people need to be aware that if you do have overdraft protection that can happen," says Coppage.

However most we spoke with are pleased with the safety net.

"I don't know why you wouldn't want to do it. You never know when something is going to happen."

The bottom line is, these new regulations affect anyone with a checking account. Every bank offers different options. So if you haven't heard from your bank yet, contact them to make your changes.

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