Banks lower ATM fees

Several German banks have lowered their ATM charges for withdrawing money from rivals' accounts, following government intervention.

Banks lower ATM fees
Photo: DPA

According to a report in the weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, some banks have more than halved their ATM withdrawal fees from over €10 to less than €5.

At the beginning of the year, the German government forced banks to make their ATMs show how much a withdrawal would cost.

The aim was to foster competition by giving customers more chance to choose the cheapest place to withdraw cash.

The measure seems to have had an effect, with Sparkasse branches in Anhalt-Bitterfeld and Niederlausitz, singled out as the worst offenders, reducing fees from ten euros to €4.95. The private banks that belong to the Cash Group have agreed a flat fee of €1.95.

An online consumer survey conducted in early February by the site found that the average cost of using a non-affiliated ATM had fallen to €3.93, around €1.70 less than it was before the new regulations.


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Danish agency criticised for failure to collect child support debts from abroad

Denmark’s parliamentary ombudsman has criticised the Danish Debt Collection Agency (Gældsstyrelsen) for failing to prioritise debts related to child support payments from persons who reside abroad.

Danish agency criticised for failure to collect child support debts from abroad

The child support payment, børne- og underholdsbidrag or more commonly børnebidrag in Danish, must generally be paid by one parent of a child to the other of the other if they do not live together.

But the Debt Collection Agency has done too little to collect payments of the contribution from abroad, the Ombudsman said in a press statement on Tuesday.

“Collection of child support contributions are of major importance for the financial circumstances in many homes,” ombudsman Niels Fenger said in the statement.

“It is therefore criticisable that the agency has, for almost five years, generally not promoted the collection of these contributions,” the watchdog added.

According to the Danish Debt Collection Agency, some 12,500 persons outside of Denmark have outstanding debts related to the child payments, totalling 2.3 billion kroner.

Collection of the money has been complicated by a lack of procedures in the area, the agency said.

Instead of sending requests to authorities in the relevant countries for collection of the debt, the Danish Debt Collection Agency has prioritised assisting foreign authorities in collecting debts outstanding in Denmark, it told the Ombudsman.

It also said that it would now prioritise collecting the Danish debts, and would produce a plan for the work.

This plan will be shared with the Ombudsman when it is completed later this year.

A large amount of debt is tied up in an old system, DMI, which does not allow wage deductions as a method of collection. A new system, PRSM, does enable this.

The agency is therefore working to transfer many of the debts from the old system to the new one, it reported to the Ombudsman.

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