Customer Sues TCF Over Overdraft Fees

A TCF customer is accusing the bank of charging her when she did not overdraw her account and failing to properly disclose its overdraft fees.

A Minnesota woman is suing Wayzata-based TCF Bank and TCF Financial Corporation, alleging that the bank's “arcane and obfuscatory” policies caused her to lose thousands of dollars in overdraft fees.

The suit, which was filed on behalf of Kimberly Pellett of Savage and “other similarly situated Minnesota consumers,” claims that TCF charged overdraft fees when the customers did not overdraw their accounts and that the bank failed to properly disclose its overdraft policies. The suit seeks class-action status.

The lawsuit was filed last month in Hennepin County District Court, and Minneapolis law firm Mansfiled, Tanick & Cohen, P. A., is representing Pellett.

“This is part of a pervasive national problem, which is being reflected in the way [TCF] and some other banks handle overdrafts,” attorney Marshall Tanickof Mansfield Tanick & Cohen, P.A., said in a Friday phone interview. “We are investigating other potential claims against other financial institutions as well.”

The lawsuit further states that TCF provided false and misleading account balance information on the bank's Web site and at the point of sale. In doing so, TCF has “engaged in consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices,” according to the suit.

TCF is also accused of arranging customers' electronic debit transactions from the highest dollar amount to the lowest-with the intention to more quickly deplete the customer's funds and maximize overdraft fees.

Pellett, who has had a TCF checking account since 2006, claims that because of conflicting amendments to the bank's overdraft policies-including the point in a transaction at which TCF determines whether or not to charge overdraft fees-customers “can have no idea how TCF will assess overdraft fees.”

For example, on June 30, 2009, Pellett's account balance contained $169.04. The following day, she made seven purchases totaling $179.50. Five of the transactions were settled that day-leaving her account with a positive balance of about $20. Pellet deposited enough money on July 2 to cover the remaining purchases.

TCF allegedly charged her four overdraft fees-totaling $140-on July 2. To do so, the suit claims that TCF “retroactively constructed a fictionalized account balance” on July 1 by deducting pending sales prior to the actual settlement of the transactions.

The complaint requests that TCF reimburses its customers who were unjustly charged overdraft fees. It also requests damages to be awarded to members of the class in an amount to be determined, but exceeding $50,000.

TCF Financial Corporation is among Minnesota's 35-largest public companies based on its 2008 revenue of $1.09 billion. The company reported $1.16 billion in revenue in 2009.