I have been hearing some horrendous stories about banks gauging people in the Morningside Heights area — Columbia and other academic institutions here and an hospital that has become a part of a consortium now doing battle with UnitedHealthCare over rates:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/25/health/policy/25insure.html?th&emc=th

We are happily served by our local branch of Banco Popular where we stayed when it replaced another bank (because we had a conveniently large safety deposit box there). They offered us $5000.00 overdraft protection at no cost (but no longer available) and we need keep only $250.00 in our savings account to avoid check charges.

Other banks in our area are doing such as the following:

1) raising interest rates on credit card balances to 29.99%.

2) charging $100 for an overdraft which previously would have been covered with a transfer from savings (one of those small print letter changes).

3) charging overdraft charges when the account has less than $100.00 remaining (another small print notice).

The banks seem to be rushing to do as much damage as possible before restraints are legislated — a reason to support Obama’s team.

I have directed this comment to my neighborhood, but others should feel free to add their own experiences by posting to the 440 list:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/440neighborhood

I mentioned our local hospital also because we are receiving erroneous bills from hospitals, too. One has to check everything these days. Being retired I fortunately have time to do so, but I worry about those too hard-pressed to do so.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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