ATM Fee Vigilantes Strike CUs
FOWLERVILLE, Mich. – Two local retirees say they are fed up with paying ATM surcharges where there is no notice and are traveling the country to withdraw cash at targeted ATMs, then filing suit–five against local credit unions just this week.
The couple, Nancy Kinder and Ray Harrison, claim in their suits–they have filed 36 in two states over the past two years–that the credit unions and banks are violating the terms of the ten-year-old Electronic Funds Transfer Act by neglecting to post notice either “on or at the ATM” that non-customers will be assessed a surcharge for withdrawing cash at the machine. The duo has embarked on several road trips over the past two years to target and photograph disclosure-less ATMs.
Kinder and Harrison filed suit in federal court here this week against Lenco CU, Michigan Schools & Government CU, Jackson County CU and Northwood CU, seeking damages. The purported class actions are filed on behalf of everyone who may have withdrawn cash from the ATMs and paid a surcharge.
The couple have also sued Elga CU, Sunrise Family CU, Mainstreet Savings Bank, Dearborn Federal Savings Bank. Bestbank, Michigan Commerce Bank, Traverse City Bank, First Community Bank, Centra State Bank and Northwestern Bank.
While many of the banks are assailing the actions as nuisance suits, others are choosing to pay. Independent Bank, which operates 40 ATMs in local communities, agreed earlier Wednesday to pay $350,000 to settle the EFTA claims. Those funds, according to a lawyer representing the couple, are being donated to local charities.
CUNA Mutual warned credit unions recently about a nationwide proliferation of such suits and cautioned credit unions that a violation of the law could result in fines of up to $500,000, as well as attorneys fees.