April 20, 2024

Bank of America to Settle Overdrafts Suit for $410 Million

The legal action against Bank of America is part of a class-action lawsuit on behalf of consumers. It accuses the nation’s banks of manipulating debit transactions to maximize the fees they could charge customers who exceeded the balance in their accounts.

Bank of America was the first defendant to settle in the case, said Robert Gilbert, one of the plaintiff lawyers. There are roughly 30 remaining defendants, including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and Citibank, he said.

A spokeswoman for Bank of America declined to elaborate on the settlement. Judge James Lawrence King of Federal District Court in Florida scheduled final approval for Nov. 7.

The legal action sprang out of complaints like one filed by Ralph Tornes, a Florida man who sued Bank of America for charging him about $500 in overdraft fees, after the bank was suspected of rearranging the order in which it processed his purchases.

In May 2008, Mr. Tornes said he had $195 in his account and made two debit purchases, for $8 and $13. The bank also processed a bill payment of $256.

Mr. Tornes claimed the bank had not processed the purchases in chronological order, but instead rearranged them from largest to smallest. The effect was that Mr. Tornes paid three $35 overdraft fees instead of one.

These days, Bank of America no longer charges overdraft fees for debit purchases, but rather declines the card if there are not sufficient funds in its customer’s account to cover the purchase.

In addition, the Federal Reserve now requires banks to obtain customers’ approval before enrolling them in overdraft programs.

In a related case, Wells Fargo last year was ordered to pay California customers $203 million for manipulating the order of transactions to maximize fees.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=57e7dcf541711938eeec3a208968934d

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