|KANSAS CITY, MO – David Johnson, a Missouri resident who was assessed hundreds of dollars of overdraft fees, recently filed a lawsuit against UMB Bank, N.A. (his bank since 1998) and UMB Financial Corporation (UMB). The class action lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, and other UMB customers in Missouri, were charged overdraft fees because of UMB’s unfair and deceptive overdraft fee practices. The lawsuit alleges that these practices violate Missouri’s consumer protection law and UMB’s contracts with its customers.
“It is one thing to charge an overdraft fee when someone has actually overdrawn their account. It is entirely another to charge an overdraft fee when the customer’s account has sufficient funds for the purchase. Even worse, in some cases UMB charges overdraft fees and additional fees for every day an account is overdrawn – even when an account is overdrawn solely because of bank fees charged by UMB. The bank is essentially charging overdraft fees on overdraft fees,” said Patrick Stueve, a lawyer with the Kansas City-based law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, which represents the plaintiff.
According to the lawsuit, FDIC-regulated banks charge an estimated $27 billion annually in overdraft fees. The plaintiff alleges, among other things, that UMB: (a) engages in a systematic policy of re-ordering debit card transactions from highest dollar amount to lowest dollar amount so as to deplete the customer’s available funds as quickly as possible while maximizing the number of overdraft fees; (b) charges overdraft fees even in situations where in fact a customer has not overdrawn his checking account; (c) charges overdraft fees even in situations where UMB in fact did not pay out more funds than were in the customer’s checking account; and (d) fails to provide accurate account balance information on the bank’s website or at the point of sale.
The plaintiff alleges, for example, that through these practices UMB charged him 17 overdraft fees of $36 each over a single weekend, including a $36 overdraft fee for a $0.85 purchase. Then, according to the class action petition, UMB charged the plaintiff additional overdraft fees and negative balance fees after these 17 fees depleted the hundreds of dollars of available funds in his account.
The law firms of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., and Tycko & Zavareei LLP are representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed April 5, 2010 in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. These firms are investigating other banks in Missouri and around the country. A copy of the UMB class action petition may be viewed here.