In Brief: May 21, 2001

HIGH BOUNCER Before signing a bad check, take heed: nonsufficient-funds (NSF) fees continue to rise as banks pursue profits. In the past six months, the average bank fee for bouncing a check was up 2.4%, from $23.87 to $24.45. That's on top of NSF fees you may have to dish out to an angry retailer. Consider overdraft protection: though most banks charge a small fee for it, customers with several accounts may get it free.

HIGHEST NSF FEES IN THE COUNTRY

Mellon Bank, Philadelphia $35 Commerce Bank, New Jersey $32 First Union, Philadelphia $31 First Virginia Bank, D.C. $30

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