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Last week a New Jersey man filed the third lawsuit challenging high ATM fees. This lawsuit accuses Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo of colluding with credit card companies to “fix” ATM fees. Another suit makes similar accusations against Visa and MasterCard and targets them as defendants. Each lawsuit is seeking class action status.
At the heart of the lawsuits is the practice of charging “foreign ATM transaction” fees. Those are fees customers pay when they use an ATM not operated by their bank. Those fees are often charged by both the operating bank and their own bank and can amount to up to $10 or more per transaction.
The lawsuits accuse Visa and MasterCard of forcing ATM operators to charge the same access fee to customers, regardless of which network they use, in order to get access to the Visa and MasterCard networks. This most recent suit alleges the banks worked with Visa and MasterCard to set those rates artificially high.
So far JPMorgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have not commented on the claims.
Banks and credit card companies have made a healthy profit nickel-and-diming the American public into near bankruptcy. And now that Americans have started to push back those banks have gotten even more aggressive, charging fees for maintaining a “low” balance, for example. No matter how bad you think the banking industry is, they manage to act worse.
Normally, class action litigation would be the best route to change these abusive practices. But after the Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision, there’s reason to be concerned that these classes will not be certified. And without the potential for large class action damages award, there may be no real way to get these practices to change.