Illegal bank fees: everything you need to know

Carrying out bank procedures or procedures has become a daily thing. These procedures, when considered banking services, entail the payment of commissions. There is no doubt that commissions are a great source of income for banks. Now, when are bank fees illegal? When is its collection not applicable?

Although commissions are an important source of income for banks, they are also the reason for disputes between clients and these same banks. These charges by the banks have given rise to numerous claims for illegal bank commissions that have been charged to the client, related to mortgages, transfers and cards, among many other products offered by these entities.

As we explained previously, bank commissions are paid for receiving a series of banking services, such as making transfers or maintaining credit cards. Thus, entities can collect commissions, detailing each service or including everything in a single charge.

When do we find ourselves in front of illegal bank commissions?

It should be noted that banks are free to determine the bank fees that they will impose on their clients, unless the regulation establishes limitations, such as when paying off a mortgage early.

The condition for a bank to be able to impose a commission is that a service is provided to the customer in an effective and real way. This means that banks cannot charge their customers for services that they have not provided. Therefore, we can conclude that an abusive commission is one that banks charge for a service that has not been provided, or that the client has not requested, as well.

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Another obligation that banks must fulfill is to inform their clients. Therefore, any bank that wishes to establish changes in its commissions, has the duty to inform its clients in advance. Well, if the bank fails to comply with its obligation to inform the customer, he can complain.

What commissions cannot a bank charge?

Indeed, banks are free to impose commissions and, also, they have the obligation to inform in advance and charge commissions for services actually rendered.

However, in the same way, there are a series of bank fees that, given their characteristics, are considered abusive.

Among them, we can find the following:

Commissions for mortgages and bank accounts

Bank fees on mortgages and bank accounts are common and legal.

Now, we will be facing an abusive situation if these commissions are not made known to the client, or if they are modified during the term of the account or mortgage contracted.

In other words, banks cannot establish commissions on accounts that are used to receive interest on the term, or for the payment of mortgage loans.

Overdraft fees

They are charged when an account is in the red (there are debts).

For its collection to be legal, the overdraft must be the responsibility of the client and the bank must collect it according to the costs it has incurred due to the client’s debt.

It is also considered illegal to charge late payment interest, as it would mean that the client is paying twice for the same reason.

Commission for return of checks

That a debtor pays his debts or keeps them unpaid does not mean receiving any banking service.

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Banking entities can charge for the issuance and management of checks, as well as for the process of claiming the debt that has not been paid.

What they cannot do is charge commissions for the return of receipts.

Commissions for cards

Once a credit card is returned, the bank will no longer be able to charge commissions to its customers.

It is common for these commissions to be annual. Thus, when returning a card, the customer is entitled to a refund of the commission for the months of the year in which he no longer had the card.

Advance notice is not followed

Every banking entity has the obligation to inform its clients about the changes in their commissions with a period of two months in advance.

In the absence of a notice with a minimum period of two months in advance, the client is entitled to claim.

Duplicate commissions

Banks will not be able to charge twice for the same service.

How to claim an illegal or abusive commission?

If, as users of banking services, we are charged an abusive or illegal commission, the first step will be to inform the bank office. It will be enough to request that the amount that they have charged us be returned to us.

In the event of a negative response from the bank or branch, the following would be to contact the Customer Service Department of the bank in question.

To do this, a letter must be submitted providing our personal data, indicating the commission that we have been improperly charged and requesting a refund of the amount that we have been charged for said commission. Do not forget that the claim can be delivered both at the branches and at the Customer Service Department.

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What if the Customer Service Department ignores our complaint or gives a negative answer?

In this case, the client may resort to the Claims Service of the Bank of Spain.

However, there may be a problem, because, although the Bank of Spain decides in favor of the client, its resolutions are not mandatory for the bank.

Of course, having a favorable resolution from the Bank of Spain is always an argument in favor if we decide to go one step further and go to court.

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