Bill to Limit ATM Fee Signage Heads to President

Published in CSP Daily News

Will protect retailers, banks from frivolous lawsuits

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (R-Mo.) measure to eliminate the requirement that ATMs display duplicative signs disclosing their fees has been sent to President Obama for his signature as part of a bill passed overwhelmingly by the House and cleared this week by the Senate.

“I am extremely pleased that Congress has worked to pass this commonsense fix that cracks down on the nuisance lawsuits that have been plaguing institutions and their hard working customers, while continuing to protect consumers,” Luetkemeyer said. “This was clearly a concern for folks on both sides of the aisle who saw the necessity of fixing current law. With such overwhelmingly support in Congress, I am hopeful the president will sign this bill into law as soon as possible.”

Right now, ATM operators are required to post both a notice of a transaction fee on or near the ATM and provide an on-screen notice of the fee during the transaction. Luetkemeyer’s measure amends the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) to maintain the on-screen fee notice requirement, but no longer requires operators to post the duplicative signs on or near ATMs. Under current regulations, a consumer who uses an ATM that does not have a notice of a transaction fee posted on or near the ATM, and is charged a fee, can bring an action against the ATM operator and recover statutory damages between $100 and $1,000 for each transaction regardless of whether the consumer suffered any actual injury. In the case of class actions, the EFTA allows for class-action damages at the lesser of $500,000, or 1% of the net worth of the defendant. In addition to damages, the EFTA also provides for attorney's fees and costs.

The passage of Luetkemeyer’s measure was praised by the leaders of the Missouri Bankers Association and the Missouri Credit Union Association.

“The Missouri Bankers Association is extremely pleased with the passage of H.R. 4367. This legislation will provide consumers with full, on-screen disclosure of ATM charges and protect banks from frivolous lawsuits by repealing the outdated, duplicative requirement that a placard must be attached to ATMs stating that a fee may be charged.  While the old dual-disclosure requirement made some sense when it was enacted in the 1990’s, today’s technology allows better disclosure to the consumer,” said Max Cook, president and CEO of the Missouri Banker’s Association.

Don Cohenour, president and CEO of Missouri Credit Union Association, also was pleased with the Senate passage of Luetkemeyer’s bill.

“This measure is a common-sense approach to address a widespread problem regarding physical fee disclosures on ATMs while still protecting consumers,” Cohenour said.