ATM Operators Not Required to Disclose Third Party Fees

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The United States District Court for the District of Maryland has confirmed that an ATM operator is not required to disclose the amount of fees charged by a third party, such as the cardholder’s financial institution, for the transaction. The plaintiff in Alston v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103026 (D. Md. Aug. 5, 2016) filed a putative class action against Wells Fargo and Capital One arising from charges for his withdrawal from his Capital One account at a Wells Fargo ATM.

Alston withdrew $200 from his Capital One account from an ATM operated by Wells Fargo. Prior to the withdrawal the ATM screen showed an amount he would be charged for the transaction by Wells Fargo. Upon receiving his bank statement, the total charges were higher, including a $3 fee from Wells Fargo and a $4 fee from Capital One. Alston sued, alleging that under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (“EFTA”) Wells Fargo failed to state the actual amount of the fee that would be charged for the transaction.

The Court dismissed Alston’s claims against Capital One, finding that his own account agreement with Capital One gave the bank the right to charge for transactions at ATMs not owned or operated by Capital One.

The Court also dismissed Alston’s EFTA claim against Wells Fargo, relying on the express language of the statute. The EFTA section, 15 U.S.C. § 1693b(d)(3)(A), requires “any [ATM] operator who imposes a fee on any consumer for providing host transfer services to such customer to provide notice … –(i) the fact that a fee is imposed by such operator for providing the service; and (ii) the amount of any such fee.” Nothing in the statute requires that an ATM operator display the fees that may be charged by another financial institution, such as a customer’s own bank. Based on Alston’s bank statement and the language of the statute, Alston’s case was dismissed.

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