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    NASM: Proceed Cautiously in Swipe-Fee Settlement Claims

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the proposed swipe-fee settlement moves closer to finalization, the National Association of Shell Marketers (NASM) is warning its members to be wary of outside assistance in the claim-filing process.

    In a letter to its members, the organization reiterated its view that those who did not choose to opt out of the settlement, instead choosing to submit claims as members of the plaintiff class, "should look with caution and skepticism upon the entities that have been offering their services in the claim-filing process."

    In communications with the class plantiffs' counsel last year, NASM said it learned that the information supplied to claimants by the Class Administrator should be sufficient for its members and their dealers to file their own claims without any outside assistance. The data is supplied by Visa, MasterCard, the bank defendants, and numerous third-party processors and acquirers, the organization stated.

    Additionally, if the settlement is approved, the Class Administrator will send each class member a claim form that will state the actual amount of interchange fees paid over the relevant period, from 2004 through 2012. Class members will have the opportunity to challenge the statement or request that it be used in calculating the claim value, but in most cases, will not have to do anything else.  

    "For this reason, NASM members should strongly consider delaying a decision to retain a claim-filing service until after they receive the claim form from the Class Administrator," NASM advised. "At that time, they will know whether the Class Administrator already appears to have all of the necessary data, and whether it might be advisable to retain the services of any advisor or consultant."

    Information regarding the current status of the swipe-fee settlement is available on the court-approved website, www.paymentcardsettlement.com

    NRF (formerly The National Retail Federation) is appealing the settlement linked to a 2005 class-action lawsuit concerning swipe fees, which are also referred to as interchange fees. In a motion filed last month, the group of retailers is asking the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court's ruling.

    NRF's notice of appeal came three weeks after U.S. District Judge John Gleeson granted final approval to a $5.7-billion settlement in the case that has seen retailers battling Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and other financial institutions over their swipe fees. Despite the ruling, retail organizations such as NRF and NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing voiced objections to the deal.

    NRF is a retail trade association that represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.

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