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House Passes Bill to Stop Frivolous ATM Lawsuits

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia announced that the House had “voted overwhelmingly to approve bipartisan legislation eliminating a regulatory provision that has become the source of frivolous lawsuits aimed at operators of automated teller machines (ATMs).”  The bill H.R. 4367 passed the House with bipartisan support by a voice vote.

Representative Bachus said, “As the number and the costs of these nuisance lawsuits rise, so does the likelihood that ATM operators will have to raise fees or reduce the number of ATMs in places where this vandalism has occurred. Failing to stem the tide of these lawsuits threatens consumers’ convenient access to their money.”

Current law requires that every ATM have a sign that notifies consumers about transaction fees.  Crooks and conmen then remove the sign and sue the ATM operator for violating the federal law.  The current law already requires that a second separate notice of transaction fees appear on the machine’s screen. The current law allows a consumer who used an ATM without the sign to collect between $100 and $1000 per transaction without having to prove that he or she actually suffered damages.

The bill would amend the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) so that it eliminates the requirement for the physical sign, but still requires that the notice appear on the screen and that consumers be given the option to opt out of the transaction after seeing the onscreen notice.

Rep. Bachus said, “We are going to put some criminals out of business with this legislation.”

H.R. 4367, was introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) from Missouri and was co-sponsored by Rep. David Scott (D) from Georgia.  Both are members of the House Financial Services Committee.  Congressman Spencer Bachus is the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.  The bill has already passed the Financial Services Committee.

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Rep Luetkemeyer said, “I was prompted to file this bill after I learned that one person in Missouri visited five ATMs and had threatened to sue over missing fee-disclosure stickers and settled the cases for more than $100,000.  These nuisance lawsuits have been a problem throughout the country and the costs to institutions are passed on to hard-working consumers. Folks on both sides of the aisle understand that this is an issue that has to be fixed. I am extremely pleased that this bill has received overwhelming bipartisan support and I remain hopeful that the Senate will move quickly on this bill.”

H.R. 4367 picked up more than 100 other Republican and Democratic co-sponsors before its approval by the House on Monday.  The bill now moves on to the Senate.

Congressman Spencer Bachus represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.  Alabama’s senior member of the U.S. House is seeking his 11th term in the U.S. Congress.  He is opposed on the November 6th General Election ballot by retired U.S.A.F. Colonel Penny Huggins Bailey (D) from Leeds.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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