I was charged a dormant fee by my bank that I don't understand. They have use of my account funds and just because I don't use the money for a while, can they legally charge me a fee for not making a transaction on the account?
Whether they are called "dormant fees" or "fees for inactivity" the answer is 'yes', they may be charged in most cases. Some state laws require that the fees cannot start until the account is not active for a prescribed period of time such as ninety days. In a similar fashion, some state laws do not allow the value of an account to decrease by virtue of any fees after a prescribed period such as onen hundred eighty days. These are examples and your state laws may certainly differ.
Your bank will have disclosed these fees to you in advance. Refer back to their schedule of fees you received when you opened your account, when the bank changed them and redisclosed them, or ask for a current schedule of fees.
Your bank may anticipate a certain amount of activity on each account. That activity can generate fee income for them. The income they receive may not even be directly from you, but realized from a merchant through the use of your debit card, as one example. They may see these dormant fees as a way to replace that as well as offset the costs they have of maintaining your account. If the account is unused for an extended period, the funds would be escheated to the state. These fees are a way of helping prevent that as well.
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