The US state of New Mexico has reached a $3.4m settlement with Visa and MasterCard over excessive fees charged during credit and debit card transactions.
The lawsuit, filed in December 2014, accused the two companies of practicing anticompetitive conduct in setting ‘interchange fees’.
The companies allegedly imposed improper fees on merchants each time a cardholder swiped cards issued by them.
The lawsuit added that the excessive fees ‘harmed’ merchants who in turn imposed a part of their expenses on customers in the form of high prices for goods and services.
It was further reported that state agencies were also charged in a similar manner by the companies.
Announcing the settlement, the state’s Attorney General Hector Balderas said Visa will pay $2.26m of a total $3.4m penalty, while the remaining $1.13m will come from Mastercard.
Balderas said: “We negotiated an agreement that will compensate the harm to New Mexico’s economy, enforce our strong consumer protection statutes, and deter companies that seek to exploit our citizens and violate our consumer protection laws.
“I’m committed to protecting New Mexico consumers, but education is also key and that’s why our office will be hosting free financial literacy trainings regarding credit and debit card ‘fine print’ in Albuquerque, Española and Las Cruces.”