BRIDGEPORT, CONN. - People's Bank, one of the last big banks in Connecticut without an ATM surcharge, said it will begin assessing the noncustomer fee on Wednesday.

People's, with 220 ATMs in the state, said it decided to charge $1.25 to make sure its customers would not be inconvenienced by additional noncustomer use, said a spokeswoman. People's has seen a slight increase in noncustomer ATM use since the state lifted its four-year ban on surcharging in December. More importantly, she said, the bank anticipates no-fee ATMs will increasingly be sought-after as online banks - most of which do not own ATMs - advertise their locations.

Since the ban's lift, most of the larger banking companies in Connecticut, including FleetBoston Financial Corp., First Union Corp., Sovereign Bancorp., and Webster Financial Corp., have begun charging fees.

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