Attorney General issues warning on credit card fees

Staff report

February 21, 2013

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper issued an alert Wednesday, Feb. 13 concerning the need for credit card security when it comes to user fees.

According to the alert, credit card users have been warned that extra fees may be placed on the card by retailers for a usage charge. Each time the card is used, the retailer is required to pay a fee to the credit card company for the transaction. Previously the credit card companies and large banks were prohibited from passing that fee’s cost on to the customer, said Attorney General Cooper. However, he said that retailers have taken the credit card companies to court and received a settlement agreement that prevented the card companies from stopping this surcharge.

The added charge is supposed to represent the merchant’s cost to accept the card, said Cooper, and can range from 1.5 percent to as much as 4 percent of your purchase price - not including sales tax.

While merchants are legally allowed to charge the fee, they are not required to do so. According to the alert from Cooper, many merchants are not rushing to impose the surcharge. If a retailer is going to add the fee, they are required to tell you of the action. The required notice may be in the form of a notice posted at the entrance to the store or at the cash register, and must be printed on the receipt.

Retailers are also required to alert you to the fee if you shop online. The settlement does not affect debit cards or American Express cards.

If you believe you have been charged this fee without being notified about it, or have been charged the fee on the entire amount rather than just the retail price, let us know, said Cooper. Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.

To reach Taylor Pardue, call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.