WASHINGTON (12/22/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to suspend a duplicative automated teller machine (ATM) notice requirement in an effort to help stop lawsuits being brought against credit unions and other financial institutions when the notices have been removed, damaged or destroyed.
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act requires credit unions and other financial institutions to disclose that ATM fees will or may be charged on the outside surface of the ATM. More detailed ATM fee information must also be provided before the transaction is completed by either projecting it on the ATM's screen or providing the ATM user with a small printed disclosure.
Credit unions and others have found that the outside notices on ATMs are, in some cases, being intentionally removed or destroyed , without the financial institution's knowledge, and that pictures are then taken of the ATM to show noncompliance. Some ATM users are then using this evidence of apparent non-compliance as grounds for lawsuits.
"Consumers do not benefit from the redundant notices, yet credit unions are being sued because the notices have been removed," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said in a letter to Acting CFPB Director Raj Date.
"If the litigants were concerned about compliance, they should first bring the issue to the institution's attention to correct it or to the attention of the regulator. That is not happening and ATM "chasers" are going straight to court," Cheney added. Cheney urged Date to perform a quick review of this regulatory situation and "suspend the duplicative ATM notice requirement."
If a quick suspension of the rule is not possible, the CFPB, "at the very least," should announce it will work with CUNA, credit unions, consumer groups, and others "to seek legislation immediately that will put an end to these suits."
CUNA has also advised credit unions on how to mitigate the risk of ATM fee lawsuits.
In a release sent to credit union league presidents, CUNA said credit unions should develop and maintain written procedures for inspecting all of their ATMs on a regular basis to ensure the ATM fee signs are intact. ATMs should be inspected at least weekly or when the ATM is serviced--whichever provides for more frequent inspections. Credit unions could photograph the ATM each time it is inspected and log the inspections, CUNA added.
Any missing signage should be replaced immediately, and credit unions can ensure that this can be done in a quick fashion by maintaining a supply of signs and stickers to replace any that have been defaced or removed from ATMs, CUNA said.
The ATM screen and paper disclosures should also be tested, CUNA added.