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17m consumers paid £1.2bn in overdraft fees in past year

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A third of UK consumers faced charges for going overdrawn or bouncing scheduled payments over the past year, according to thinkmoney research.

The figures show that the average overdraft fee incurred was £73, which equates to £1.2bn in total. Ten million of those who went into the red incurred charges in excess of £100 each, the figures show. That includes 2.6m people with penalty charges totalling more than £300 over the year.

While fewer women went overdrawn, those who did were more likely to go overdrawn multiple times during the year. This pushed the average annual charge for women to £78, compared with £70 for men.

Londoners paid the highest charges at £114 per year, followed by residents of Northern Ireland (£109) and the West Midlands (£106). Yorkshire residents are the least likely to go overdrawn.

Ian Williams, a spokesperson for thinkmoney, believes the findings demonstrate free banking is a myth.

“For millions of people, the free current accounts and basic bank accounts offered by high street banks sting them with unauthorised overdraft charges, daily usage charges, interest charges, or fees for bounced cheques and unpaid direct debits,” he said.

“These people, who are often the least able to afford charges, are subsidising the banking system for everybody else.”

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