Surprise Fees! Bank of America Settles Wire Transfer Class Action Lawsuit

Bank of America surprise wire transfer fees

Unclear Disclosures Lead to $15 Fee for Receiving Money

Bank of America has reached a settlement agreement to resolve a class action lawsuit that accused them of hitting customers with surprise fees on incoming wire transfers. The lawsuit, filed by California resident Aaron Aseltine, alleged the bank failed to adequately disclose these charges, misleading account holders and potentially violating consumer protection laws.

Surprise fees on incoming money?

Aseltine's complaint centered on undisclosed fees, which his lawyers called "junk fees," added to incoming wire transfers for personal accounts. These fees, allegedly amounting to $15 per transfer, caught unsuspecting customers off guard and resulted in unexpected debits from their accounts.

The lawsuit argued that Bank of America's account disclosures and marketing materials were misleading. Customers were led to believe they could receive wire transfers without additional charges, only to discover hidden fees upon receiving the funds. This discrepancy violated both the terms of the bank's account agreements and consumer protection laws in California and North Carolina, according to the plaintiffs' claims.

Bank of America says "ask us," but was it clear enough?

Facing these accusations, Bank of America attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed. The bank argued that their disclosures mentioned the possibility of fees for incoming wire transfers, and the onus fell on the customer to inquire about specific charges.

However, the lawsuit countered that the bank's disclosures were vague and lacked transparency. Phrases like "fee varies" for wire transfers offered little clarity, and the specific $15 incoming transfer fee was allegedly absent from the customer contract documents.

Fees in the spotlight: Transparency matters

The case highlighted the importance of clear and upfront communication regarding bank fees. Aseltine's lawyers contrasted Bank of America's practices with other financial institutions like Wells Fargo, which explicitly disclose their wire transfer fees in their disclosure documents. Additionally, the lawsuit pointed out that several banks, including Ally Bank, Capital One, and Discover, completely avoid charging fees for receiving domestic wire transfers.

Moving forward: Settlement on the horizon

While the specific terms of the settlement remain confidential at this stage, it paves the way for potential compensation for account holders affected by these undisclosed fees. The settlement approval process is underway, with both parties having until May 24th to submit a motion for preliminary approval.

This case serves as a reminder for consumers to be vigilant about bank fees and to carefully review account disclosures. It also emphasizes the importance of clear communication from financial institutions regarding potential charges associated with their services.

Aseltine and the class are represented by David M. Wilkerson of The Van Winkle Law Firm; Sophia Goren Gold and Jeffrey D. Kaliel of Kaliel Gold PLLC; and Jeff Ostrow and Jonathan M. Streisfeld of Kopelowitz Ostrow PA. 

The Bank of America surprise wire transfer fees class action lawsuit is Aseltine, et al. v. Bank of America, N.A., Case No. 3:23-cv-00235, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.



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