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Ten Strategies to Fight Bank Fees

Kevin Smith was fed up with his bank.

The 27-year-old advertising executive closed his Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) accounts in mid-April after what he called a "nonstop barrage of fees and charges." The latest round of surcharges began when Smith incurred one fee for attempting to transfer more funds than were available from one account to another. He then incurred a second fee for having insufficient funds to cover the initial charge.

The final straw came when Smith called Bank of America to complain. He encountered what he considered a discourteous customer-service rep who noted that other banks charge such fees as well. Bank of America soon lost a customer.

Bank of America says it has put in place dozens of tools and services -- such as email alerts, overdraft protection and interactive features on its Web site -- to educate consumers and help them avoid such fees. "We really want to work with all our customers," a representative says, "whether by phone, in person or online."

Fees are a common complaint for customers of all kinds of banks beyond Bank of America. Declining interest rates, tough competition to attract customers with higher yielding accounts and turmoil in the mortgage and credit markets have left banks tapping into other streams of revenue.

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