Day after day, month after month, banks pick your pockets with impunity. Not content with charging rip-off interest rates to borrowers, banks have now discovered that lots and lots of little fees add up to some serious cash flow and cause only minor irritation for most of their customers.

It doesn’t seem like enough to fight about, really. A couple of three dollar ATM fees here, a few”overdraft” charges there. It doesn’t seem enough to merit more than a bit of grumbling.

Added together, though, fees and overdrafts total some serious money. For example, in 2009, even as consumers were being stretched to the financial breaking point, banks collected a record $38 BILLION in overdraft fees alone, nearly double the amount collected in 2000!

The public outcry against these fees resulted in the government issuing more regulations, rules with little bite due to the cozy, symbiotic relationship banks enjoy with politicians. This relationship allows banks to continue to steal money from consumers and help themselves to our tax dollars at the same time.

The issue of bank scams and hidden charges is an important one, especially when you consider that every penny they get from you is one that you won’t have in your retirement account.

I strongly believe that by taking some simple actions, you can avoid many of these bogus fees and charges and keep more of your money for yourself.

In this article, I’d like to look at a few common and not-so-common ways banks are reaching into your pocket and show you how you can avoid becoming a victim of these barely legal scams.

Please remember: Not every bank is doing ALL of these things, but there is a chance that your bank is doing at least ONE of them. This list is designed so that you can be on the lookout for unnecessary fees every time you review your statement.

Fees for Paying Online: Buying online has become HUGE over the past few years, a fact not lost on banks. Already, some banks are charging “online convenience fees” of anywhere from $2-$4.95 for purchases made over the internet. Other banks are eyeing this as a potential mother lode of revenue. Before you use your credit or debit card online, confirm that your bank DOES NOT charge online transaction fees.