Following in the footsteps of successful class-action suits against banks on overdraft fees, a nonprofit group is targeting credit unions around the country for similar suits.
The group, classaction.org., is advertising in various media for individuals who may feel wronged by a credit union and has named numerous credit unions, including Utah’s Mountain America Credit Union, Alabama’s Redstone Federal Credit Union, California’s Orange County Credit Union, South Carolina’s SRP Federal Credit Union, Boston’s Metro Credit Union, California’s Trans Credit Union and several others.
The notices state: “If you have been hit with an unfair overdraft fee from your state or regional bank, you may be eligible to participate in litigation against your bank and recover compensation. To find out if you are eligible, simply fill out our free, no obligation case review form for more information.”
The notices say the that though named credit union “has not been named among the establishments allegedly charging unfair overdraft fees, customers of this bank may have grievances similar to those outlined in lawsuits filed against Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other large banking institutions.”
Classaction.org has organized some of the biggest class-action suits in recent years against pharmaceutical makers, rental car companies, private mortgage insurance providers, medical device manufacturers and hospitals.
The group was successful in rounding up plaintiffs for big overdraft suits against Bank of America Corp., which agreed to pay $410 million to settle claims, as well as Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Citibank, PNC, National City Bank, Intrust Bank, Bank of Hawaii, Fifth Third Bank, Webster Bank, Zions Bank and several others.
But it is not clear whether the credit-union efforts will bear fruit because the bank suits all involved a practice used by banks known as “batching,” which credit unions are not believed to engage in.
With batching, banks process debit transactions not at the time they occur but in a batch, from largest to smallest. The banks say that by ordering debits from largest to smallest benefits customers. For example, mortgage or rent payments are generally the largest debits, so they should receive priority and should be the first to be paid.
Regardless of whether the class-action group is able to bring cases against credit unions, the effort comes as increasing numbers of consumers are filing suits against credit unions for allegedly failing to disclose the fees they charge nonmembers to use their ATMs, in violation of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.
A New Yorker who has been filing a slew of the suits filed one last week against Washington’s North Coast Credit Union, his 32nd such suit, and a Michigan retiree has filed more than 40 ATM suits over the past three years.
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