As Chicago ATM fee fraud attorneys, we were extremely interested to see an ATM fee fraud lawsuit filed right here in the Northern District of Illinois. According to an Oct. 29 post from the Chicago Bar-Tender blog, Frederick Brill is suing Marriott International Inc. over alleged violations of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. The case stems from ATM fees incurred by Brill’s use of an ATM in the lobby of the Marriott Lincolnshire, in the Chicago suburbs, in December of 2008. Brill and his attorneys are seeking class action status for the case, which they say could include hundreds of people.
The complaint in the case says Brill found no notice on the outside of the machine, but he was nonetheless charged a $2.50 fee to use it. This alleged conduct violates the EFTA, a federal law governing consumers’ rights when withdrawing, paying or moving money electronically, including through ATMs. ATM fees are legal under the EFTA, but ATM operators are required to post notices of the fees and their amounts on the outside of the machines. They must also put an additional notice on the screen of the ATM itself, or on a paper receipt, a requirement not at issue in the lawsuit. If ATM operators fail to meet these requirements, the EFTA allows injured consumers to sue to recover the fee, as well as statutory damages of a set amount per violation. If the case is a class action, as proposed here, injured consumers may recover attorney fees and statutory damages of up to $500,000, or one percent of the company’s net worth, whichever is lesser.
As consumer rights attorneys for more than two decades, we are pleased to see growing consumer awareness of this problem. ATM fees themselves caused a lot of grumbling when they were first introduced, but court rulings made it clear that it’s not illegal simply to charge an ATM fee. This has trained many consumers to shrug and accept outrageously high fees. By contrast, the language of the EFTA is very clear about the requirement to give notice of ATM fees on both the outside of the machine and on the screen itself. The law is designed to give consumers the opportunity to opt out of fees they don’t agree with — something that’s much less likely once they’ve already inserted their cards. Consumers have the right to make decisions about these fees with full information, and ATM operators shouldn’t be able to end-run around their legal obligations, whether out of negligence or deliberate choice.
For more than two decades, Lubin Austermuehle has fought for consumers’ rights against fraud and deceptive practices by all kinds of businesses. Our Evantson, Wilmette, Northbrook and Waukegan Illinois ATM fee fraud lawyers have extensive experience building and proving cases in complex consumer rights litigation, including class actions as well as individual cases. We have a strong record of significant recoveries in billing fraud, auto dealership fraud and other consumer fraud cases. Based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, and Chicago, we represent clients throughout Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and all of the United States. If you believe you were defrauded by ATM fees you weren’t warned about, we can help. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago ATM fee fraud lawyer, you can call us toll-free at 630-333-0333 or contact us through our Web site.