A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. over allegations that the bank has assessed unlawful overdraft fees, particularly for transactions that have not overdrawn a customer’s account. The plaintiff in the case claims he was charged several $36 overdraft fees by PNC even though his account had sufficient funds to cover the transactions at issue.
According to the lawsuit, PNC has violated its agreements with accountholders by engaging in the “deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable” practice of assessing “crushing” overdraft fees on transactions that fail to actually overdraw a customer’s account. The plaintiff alleges that he was charged two overdraft fees by the bank on December 10, 2019 for transactions that, as evidenced by his monthly account statement, never caused his balance to dip below zero. The man further claims that he was improperly charged an overdraft fee for a transaction that amounted to less than $5 despite the defendant’s purported promise outlined in account documents not to do so.
Further still, the lawsuit alleges that although PNC has promised to use its own discretion in permitting or denying overdraft transactions, the bank almost always allows potential account-overdrawing transactions to proceed. Stressed in the lawsuit are the “devasting effects” associated with PNC’s practice, which the plaintiff argues are particularly difficult for low-income customers who the bank is aware could become caught in a web of overdraft fees.
The case claims that PNC’s automated system is intentionally set up to authorize transactions that will likely result in an overdraft “because there [is] a profit to be made.” From the complaint:
“Knowing that overdraft fees are difficult or impossible to recover from for low-income consumers, PNC freely provided [the plaintiff] with virtually unlimited overdraft, almost never using its discretion to deny overdraft transactions—driving [the plaintiff] into an inextricable cycle of debt and overdrawn balances.”
The lawsuit asks the court to prohibit PNC from engaging in allegedly deceptive overdraft practices and repay customers any overdraft fees they were charged improperly.