Consumer Confidential: Consumer prices up, and so are bank fees

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Here’s your you-better-think Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Our bills for everyday goods are going up, although economists say it shouldn’t get too much worse. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5% in July, according to the Labor Department. That came after a drop of 0.2% in June. An increase in gas prices accounted for much of the swing. Rising inflation reduces consumers’ buying power. Average hourly pay, adjusted for inflation, declined in July and has fallen 1.3% in the last year, according to a separate report. Over the last 12 months, prices have risen 3.6%. That’s equal to the 12-month increase in May and June. Core prices over the last 12 months have gone up 1.8% -- the largest increase since December 2009.


-- Another day, another bank fee. Wells Fargo plans to test market a $3 monthly fee for debit cards in some areas. JP Morgan Chase is already charging a $3 fee in some places, such as Wisconsin. Regions Bank too has already begun charging a $4 monthly debit card fee, as well as Sun Trust Bank. which now charges a $5 monthly debit card fee. Is this a sign of things to come for all bank customers? The answer is yes -- until there’s a backlash from customers. The move comes as banks are bracing for lost ‘swipe fees’ that merchants pay when customers use debit cards in their stores. Looking for an alternative? Check out your local credit union.


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-- David Lazarus