Bank robbery used to mean that a desperado would go into a bank, all guns blazing, and steal money. Today, however, it's much different. The modern bank robber is more likely to wear a white shirt with a red or blue tie and a dull dark grey or blue suit. Or maybe an equally boring pant suit or dress if it's a woman. That's because the bank robber has become the banker him or herself.

Banks have signaled their newest technique in robbing you of your money will be to charge you almost as much to use an ATM as you take out of that machine! Of course, the idea of ATM fees are not really new at all, but they are making a resurgence with big dollars at stake.

I read a Dow Jones story that reported Chase is testing fees of $5 in Illinois and $4 in Texas for non-customers who use their ATMs. Other banks also upping their ATM fees include TD Bank Financial Group and PNC Financial Services Group.

Now, as you probably know, you're often his twice to use an ATM as a non-customer. Chase may ding you for $5 and your own bank could also assess a $5 fee on your account.  The day of the $10 ATM charge is upon us!

So what can you do about it? Take your business elsewhere. Most small community banks and credit unions don't play the same game with your money. Nor does USAA. Your ATM withdrawal fee can be free!

My senior producer Kim uses INGDirect.com for her checking account. If she uses an ATM that's not within their network, she'll pay the bank's own fee but she gets no charge from ING. On the other hand, I use Charles Schwab for my checking. Chuck absorbs all fees on both sides of the transaction.

Speaking of big banks, they're also really into charging huge fees to have a checking account. One of my staffer's parents was paying $400 annually for an account! It's up to you how much financial pain you want to have in your life. And now you know that the key to limiting that pain is in your hands.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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