Banks out to kill rule that requires ATMs to post their fees

Finger using ATM keyboard

Is there any rule protecting consumers that banks don’t want to kill?

The federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act requires every ATM to have a sign on it that explains how much it costs to use.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? An automated teller machine should tell you, before you put in your card, how much they’re going to charge you.

But according to the New York Times, banks, credit unions and independent ATM operators want the rule killed because of what they're calling "ATM vigilantes." These are people who go out and try to find ATMs that don't comply with the rule and then sue the ATM servicer over it.

We agree that the lawyers filing these lawsuits should be ashamed of themselves -- if such a thing is possible.

But we suspect these lawsuits are not the real reason banks, credit unions and ATM operators don't want to be required to post their fees in plain sight.

No, they want to wait as long as possible to tell you how much they'll charge you so they can get away with high ATM fees.

They don’t want you to see the cost before you put your card in because they know that makes it a lot easier for you to shop around and find a less-expensive ATM.

It’s more time consuming, and you’re far less likely to bail on a machine once you’re well into the process of accessing your money. There's a reason the charge doesn’t appear until the very last screen of the transaction.

It's a lot easier to raise ATM fees if you don't have to post them on the machines that collect them.

Banks have experimented with higher ATM fees as a way to make up the revenue from fees they can no longer collect because of new consumer protection rules.

And here's why this frivolous lawsuit reason doesn't hold any water.

ATMs are serviced at least once a week and often more often than that.

There’s no reason the person stocking the machine with cash can’t make sure it has a fee sticker on the front to thwart those scheming lawyers.

Anyone trying to peel off the sticker would be caught by the machine’s video camera.

So there. Problem solved.

This is a rule we need to keep.