Bank Sued Over Debit Card Transactions
Wilkes Barre Times Leader (PA)
July 23, 2012
First Community Bank and Trust has been hit with a class-action lawsuit over allegations that it purposely changed the order in which it posted debit card transactions in order to cause consumers to overdraw their accounts and incur penalties. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, William and April Johnson of Scranton, Pa., argued that even if there were adequate funds in an account to support all transactions if the debits were deducted in the order in which they occurred, the bank's deliberate shuffling sent some customer accounts into the red. "[The bank] would sometimes hold a transaction two or three days then, all of a sudden, lump them together," explained lawyer Jeffrey Ostrow. "It makes it nearly impossible to figure out what was in the account most of the time." In the Johnsons' case, 13 transactions during the course of one day triggered three separate overdraft fees of $32 each; but if the purchases had been posted from lowest amount to highest amount, the couple would have overdrawn just once, paying $32 instead of $96. Their lawsuit, one of dozens filed against numerous banks because of their overdraft policies, is seeking an order directing the bank to forfeit profits it earned from questionable overdraft fees as well as pay restitution and punitive damages.
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