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Alfaro v. Bank of America

The Truth in Savings Act (TISA) and its implementing regulation, Regulation DD, require banks and other depository institutions to provide consumers with disclosures about interest rates and fees associated with deposit accounts. TISA and Regulation DD preserve state disclosure laws except to the extent such laws are inconsistent with federal law, and administrative guidance indicates that state law is inconsistent only when a bank cannot comply with both state and federal law.

The complaint in this case alleged state-law causes of action for breach of contract and related claims, claiming that Bank of America was not authorized by its customer agreement to impose foreign transaction fees for debit card transactions. After the district court held that TISA preempted the plaintiffs’ claims, the plaintiffs appealed to the 11th Circuit.

On appeal, Public Citizen filed an amicus brief explaining that TISA and Regulation DD do not preempt the plaintiffs’ claims, because TISA and Regulation DD do not regulate the terms that a bank chooses to offer in its customer agreement and because the state law on which the claims are based is not inconsistent with TISA or Regulation DD. The court of appeals, however, affirmed the dismissal on the ground that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim and did not reach the preemption issue.