Bret and Jemaine should file claim for $78 from Bank of America

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Anyone who has been dinged by their bank for an overdraft charge, as the two main characters were in the recent "Flight of the Conchords" show on HBO, knows that sinking feeling you get when you see it on your bank statement.

There's now a chance to exact a little revenge by getting up to $78 back from Bank of America as part of a class-action lawsuit recently settled by Bank of America and any of the banks it acquired between 2000 and 2007, according to SmartMoney story.

The lawsuit, settled for $35 million, alleged that the bank failed to warm customers that transactions were triggering fees, and that it changed the posting order of transactions and embarked on other activities in order to increase revenue from non-sufficient funds fees, overdraft fees and similar charges.

Bank of America denies any wrongdoing and is agreeing to pay up to $78 per account holder. The average household pays $368 in overdraft fees each year, according to Brenton Woods, a financial services advisory firm quoted in the SmartMoney story.

WalletPop's Sarah Gilbert wrote about this method of making money at Bank of America in December.Bank of America also owns Fleet Bank, LaSalle Bank and U.S. Trust Co. If you were charged an overdraft fee at Bank of America or one of those banks between 2000 and 2007, you may want to file a claim.

The deadline to file a claim is May 1.

Opting out of a bank's overdraft protection wasn't part of the new credit card rules that the Federal Reserve recently passed, although consumer advocates are hopeful the Fed will look into overdraft fees later this year.

A claim form can be filled out online or printed out to mail in. A few details are needed, such as dates you were a customer and the eligible account number. You don't have to give details of specific instances when you were charged a fee. And if you don't want to send your account number, you can specify your home address at the time you believe you were charged a fee.

And for those non "Flight of the Conchords" fans on HBO, the latest episode had Bret's purchase of a $2.79 coffee mug, leaving their checking account $2.79 short, causing a $30 overdraft fee, and thus insufficient funds to pay the electric bill, and another $30 fee for having the check bounce for the electric bill. And Bret and Jemaine had their power turned off. A good lesson to keep enough money in the checking account to avoid fees.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.aaroncrowe.net

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