The National Retail Federation said it will try to block a settlement of as much as $7.25 billion with Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. over the fees they charge shops when customers pay with credit cards.

The group, which represents more than 9,000 retailers, said the settlement of the price-fixing lawsuit does nothing to prevent Visa and MasterCard from raising the so-called swipe fees in the future. The NRF board authorized the group to "firmly and loudly" object to the settlement, Mallory Duncan, the group's general counsel, said today in a phone interview.

"We will try to find the most forceful way we can to let the court know that this deal is so unfair that it needs to be rejected at the outset," Duncan said.

The Washington-based NRF, which calls itself the world's largest retail trade group, is the latest of several trade associations and retailers to speak out against the settlement, which was announced on July 13.

The agreement, which must be approved by a federal court in Brooklyn, would put to rest about seven years of litigation over allegations that San Francisco-based Visa and Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard conspired to fix the fees. A hearing on the status of the settlement is scheduled for today before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in Brooklyn.

K. Craig Wildfang, a lawyer who is advocating for the settlement, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the NRF announcement.

The case is In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, 05-md-01720, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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