A proposed class action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on March 29, 2018 against Fifth Third Bank (“Bank”) by a consumer, Carnell Smith (“Smith”), who claims the Bank fails to properly disclose that it charges consumers out-of-network ATM fees for checking their account balances, among other charges that are not disclosed openly.
The complaint alleges that the Bank does not make consumers aware of the fees they can incur for checking their balance or that it is possible to be hit with a double charge if the consumer checks their balance and subsequently makes a withdrawal. “Defendant’s uniform practice of charging two [out-of-network] fees per cash withdrawal is unfair, violates representations in defendant’s account documents, and constitutes a breach of contract.” Smith also alleges that the Bank charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee when consumers use an ATM outside of the U.S., without disclosing the fee.
According to Smith’s allegations, most consumers assume that they will not be charged a separate $2.75 fee to check their account balance when making a withdrawal from an out-of-network ATM. By charging a fee for this service without providing a notice to consumers, the bank is, according to Smith, preying on this “common assumption and understanding.”
Smith argues that checking an account balance is not a transaction, and therefore, should not have an associated fee. Smith asserts that if he had known he would be hit with two fees, one for checking his balance and the other for a withdrawal, he would not have used the out-of-network ATMs.
As stated above, the Bank also allegedly charges a 3 percent fee for foreign transactions at out-of-network ATMs, even when an account holder is withdrawing U.S. dollars. The complaint asserts that this alleged improper fee of 3 percent is charged on both the transaction amount and any fee that is charged by the foreign ATM owner.
Smith seeks to represent both a nationwide class of all Fifth Third [Bank] account holders who were hit with a fee for a balance inquiry at an out-of-network ATM and a nationwide class of consumers who were charged fees for both a balance inquiry and a withdrawal at an-out-of-network ATM. Both groups would have Florida subclasses.
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Morris, Sophia. “Fifth Third Accused Of Charging Double Fees For ATM Use”. Law360. Last Modified on March 29, 2018.