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Persistence, Account Alertness The Keys To Successful Fee Avoidance

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TWC News: Persistence, Account Alertness The Keys To Successful Fee Avoidance
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For those hit with penalties from their bank or credit card companies, there are some tips on how to avoid paying. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

From late fees to over-limit fees to bounced check fees, it seems there's a fee for everything these days.

"We've been in a fee frenzy for a long time, and financial institutions will find anything, any way, any crack or crevice they can use to actually charge a fee," says Credit.com Co-Founder Adam Levin.

Of course, institutions can't charge those who didn't do something wrong.

To avoid fees, think of them like speeding tickets.

"The reason you got pulled over is because you were going faster than the speed limit, and so the reason you got the late payment fee or the overdraft fee is because you either made the payment late or you didn't have enough money in the account," says Bankrate.com Senior Financial Analyst Greg McBride.

But just like a speeding ticket, people can always try to fight these fees, and Levin says there's a pretty good chance people will win.

"We found in our survey that 44 percent of the people surveyed said that they actually had success getting fees reversed or eliminated," Levin says.

The most common success reported was against overdraft fees, which typically run around $35.

There are a few steps people can take to best avoid these fees.

"Set up a link between your checking account and your savings account, so that you don't trip over that line in the event that you run a little bit short in the checking account," McBridge says.

Coming in a close second are late payment fees which Credit.com found were successfully reversed nearly a quarter of a time. These too pack quite a punch.

"Credit card late payment fees typically run $20, $25 for that first offense. If you make a second offense within six months, it can be even higher than that," McBride says.

So what should one facing a fee do?

Even if someone is guilty as charged, the first thing they should do is ask for a reversal.

"If you don’t ask, you don’t get," Levin says. "Pick up the phone, be bold, and ask."

Next, Levin says don't be so quick to take no for an answer.

Be polite, but persistent, and ask to speak to a supervisor.

Finally, people should choose their battles wisely and know their strengths and weaknesses.

"If you're a routine offender, you don't have a leg to stand on, you're not going to get that fee waived," McBride says.

"But if it really is a onetime event or an explainable event, it’s very possible they are willing to do something for you," Levin says. "Take the shot. All they can say is no."

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