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Class Action Suit Says Banks, ATM Owners Fix Fees

A class action anti-trust lawsuit suit claiming a number of financial institutions and ATM operators have conspired and charged consumers inflated ATM fees was filed in a federal court in Manhattan on Aug. 16, 2004. The suit objects to the fact that consumers are dinged twice for withdrawing cash at an ATM that is not owned by their banks.

They are usually charged fees between $1.50 and $2-the banks collect a "foreign ATM" fee to cover the cost of interchange it must pay to the owner of the ATM and the ATM owner also charges for the transaction. The banks and ATM owners are scheming to charge these fees, which are "unnecessary" and "fixed," the suit alleges. The suit asks that the defendants stop collaborating to "fix, raise, maintain or stabilize the interchange fee," CNN/Money reported.

Defendants named in the case include Concord EFS Inc., First Data Corp., Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citibank, SunTrust Banks Inc., Wachovia Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. In May 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear additional arguments from the cities of San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif. The cities had asked that the fees banks charge non-customers for ATM transactions be outlawed ("Supreme Court Rules ATM Fees OK," The Green Sheet, June 9, 2003, issue 03:06:01). Federal laws currently allow banks to charge access fees to non-customers.

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