CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Citizens Bank has agreed to pay $137.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit which accused the bank of manipulating its customers' debit card and ATM transactions in order to generate excess overdraft fee revenues for the bank, the Miami law firm Grossman Roth said in an April 25 press release.
The lawsuit, part of multidistrict litigation involving more than 30 different banks entitled In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, (No. 09-cv-02036, S.D. Fla.), is pending before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami. Citizens Bank is part of Citizens Financial Group which, through RBS Citizens N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, operates more than 1,500 retail banking branches throughout the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-West.
The lawsuit claims that Citizens Bank employed software programs designed to extract the greatest possible number of overdraft fees from its customers. According to the lawsuit, Citizens Bank re-sequenced its customers' debit card and ATM transactions by posting them in highest-to-lowest dollar amount, rather than in the actual order in which the transactions were initiated by the customers and authorized by the bank. According to the lawsuit, this internal bookkeeping practice resulted in Citizens' customers being charged substantially more in overdraft fees than if their debit card and ATM transactions had been posted in the order in which they were authorized by the bank.
"This is an outstanding recovery for Citizens' customers who were affected by this practice. We are extremely pleased to have achieved this result," said Robert C. Gilbert with Grossman Roth in Miami. Gilbert serves as Plaintiffs' Coordinating Counsel overseeing and managing all cases in this multidistrict litigation proceeding. He expects the settlement with Citizens Bank to be presented to the court for approval later this year.
Citizens Bank is not the first bank involved in this multidistrict litigation to settle similar claims. Last year, the court approved a $410 million settlement with Bank of America. Settlements with a number of other banks have been announced over the past six months.
In addition to Gilbert, the principal lawyers involved in the Citizens Bank case are Aaron Podhurst and Peter Prieto of Podhurst Orseck in Miami, and Ted Trief of Trief & Olk in New York.
Grossman Roth P.A., founded in Miami in 1988, also maintains offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Sarasota and Key West, Fla. The firm concentrates its practice in the areas of class actions and complex commercial litigation, catastrophic personal injury, products liability, aviation, professional malpractice and other cases involving significant economic or physical damages.
For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions, connect with us through our corporate site.
Not only were they doing this they - they also with-held deposits from entering into the accounts as scheduled - ran all the withdrawals first, charged the fees, and then let the deposit enter the account - from which they would deduct all the fees. They refused to give me a time print-out of the transactions when I went to the bank they accused me of being a bad bookeeper - meanwhile that was what I did for a living. They tried to tell me the money wasn't in my account when I knew it went in since I worked in the payroll department of my company. They reported it two days later than it should have been in the account. Their idea of midnight is apparently way off from my company's. I suppose you can keep pushing midnight until the next day into infinite but eventually there has to be a point when a day can be demarcated by something. They also never notified me of the account changes. My atm card in 7 years prior never allowed cash to be withdrawn unless money was in the account. They de-activated my old ATM and forced me to use a new one - but it came with no terms at all because I actually checked i was suspicious about the new card and forced de-activation of my old one. The ATM balance had also previously always reflected my account balance. But since the new hacky stuff what was reported in the bank wasn't actually what was in it not even on a bank print-out or by calling in (I configured pending checks but was wrong because they were holding all these debit transactions as pending.) All in all it cost me about $500.00 (that's a weeks pay for me) and it almost cost me a home loan when they wanted my statements going back a year and there was this big fat overdrawn by $500.00 listed (they also listed it on every statement to follow not just for the month it happens.) Essentially they are reporting bad finances by showing this on every statement this will effect home loans, especially for first time buyers. I'm sure there must be some law that this can not be show on every statement just the month it happened in knowing banks require this paperwork for loans. Also they don't accept copies for home loans - so being forced to pay for a monthly statement should be illegal especially since it's the banks themselves who won't accept the online copies of statements as legal documentation to qualify for a loan.
They also have been taking transaction that already cleared on certain date and reposting to a later date, which was just done to me this week along with putting all the transactions biggest to smallest causing me 3 overdraft fee's.
So have they said when they will be reimbursing those affected . I have heard nothing from them . Strange how slow they can be refunding us after be so quick to take our funds .