<p>NEW YORK – A study performed by the New York Public Interest Research Group (N.Y. PIRG) found that banks fees increased in 2001 over the previous year. It also pointed out that most banks are charging for simply checking an account balance at a `foreign’ ATM and using deceptive practices to charge its own customers, according to a report in the American Banker. (See related story on fees on page 13.) ATM surcharges at banks last year, N.Y. PIRG contends, averaged $1.49 and reached as high as $2.50 in New York State. Additionally, of 106 ATMs owned by 49 different banks surveyed, 97 % imposed a surcharge on noncustomers (up from 93% in 2000, according to www.newsday.com), and 88% of banks imposed fees on their customers who used other banks’ ATMs. The average foreign ATM charge was $1.20 for withdrawals. Banks also charged customers $1.03 to check their balance at foreign ATMs, the Banker reported. According to www.newsday.com, 65% charged this fee. The study also revealed that some larger banks are not placing their names on their own ATM machines and subsequently charging their own customers for the use of the machine. Bank One Corp., Bank of America Corp., and First Union Corp. were all found guilty of this practice. More than half the surveyed banks charged a fee for debit card use, N.Y. PIRG said. The average POS fee came to $0.89. U.S. PIRG decided to forego its nationwide study of ATM fees this year.</p>