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Idle Bank Accounts Can Be Costly

Ken Tumin
Ken Tumin   |     |   5,734 posts since 2009

This is a good reminder to avoid letting your savings or checking accounts go idle. You could be hit with monthly fees or escheatment. Liz Weston answers a reader's question about this issue.

me1004   |     |   536 posts since 2010
I saw that in the paper, and I almost wrote to Weston. Her answer actually suggests she did not understand what was going on.

In her answer, Weston addressed accounts being declared abandoned and charged fees and later turned over to the state. She did not understand that the person writing in was not talking about that, was talking about dormancy fees banks are charging -- without the accounts being qualifying for abandonment and being turned over to the state. 

The person writing in said the account had been emptied out by the fee(s). But he did not say how much was in it. If the fee is $10, and you had $5 in the account, then it would be emptied out by one fee application.

To be declared abandoned, it requires more than lack of transaction. That requires that they have had no contact from you, which is any contact, not necessarily a transaction. 

Banks (and credit unions) are charging dormancy fees if there is no transaction on an account after a certain period. (These, of course, don't apply to CDs since you are not supposed to make transactions on them.) Some of mine do so after six months of no transactions, others after 12 months. This has nothing to do with an account being abandoned. It can also be done to one of your accounts even as you have others on which you have been making transactions -- and so clearly have been in contact with the bank via those transactions.