Frontwave completes merger with Barstow Community Credit Union; also facing proposed class action lawsuit

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Frontwave Barstow branch
Photo credit: Frontwave Credit Union

BARSTOW – Frontwave Credit Union (FCU), announced Tuesday, that its merger with Barstow Community Credit Union is finalized. This comes on the heels of a class action lawsuit alleging “unlawful overdraft fees on transactions that did not actually overdraw customers’ accounts.”

According to FCU, the merger – approved in June 2022, provides Barstow Community Credit Union members with expanded access to over a dozen branch locations throughout Southern California, as well as lower loan rates, online and mobile banking tools, and additional product and service offerings, including mortgage loans, money market accounts, and investment services.

The combined credit unions, now with more than 122,000 members, will operate as Frontwave Credit Union.

“Both credit unions have a long history of service to the Barstow community, and combining our forces was really in the best long-term interest of current and future members as well as the community as a whole,” said Frontwave Credit Union President and CEO Bill Birnie. “We are thrilled to welcome all 1,300 Barstow Community Credit Union members to the Frontwave crew, and are excited to help make their financial dreams come true.”

FCU is a member-owned nonprofit financial institution serving San Bernardino, San Diego, Riverside counties. Founded in 1952 as Camp Pendleton Federal Credit Union in Oceanside, California, Frontwave has grown from eight civil service employee members and $40 in assets to over 122,000 members and $1.3 billion in assets.

Frontwave says they also hired Barstow Community Credit Union employees onto their staff, and combined their Barstow branch operations into a single location at 995 Armory Road in Barstow.

In related news, a proposed class action lawsuit, filed also in June, claims FCU has assessed unlawful overdraft fees on transactions that did not actually overdraw customers’ accounts – “to the tune of millions of dollars” in violation of their agreements with FCU.

At issue in the complaint is “authorize positive, purportedly settle negative” (APPSN) transactions. These types of transactions are initially authorized by the credit union into positive funds but settle into a negative balance days later as a result of intervening transactions that purportedly deplete an account’s funds.

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According to the case, FCU fails to disclose in its account documents its practice of assessing overdraft fees on APPSN transactions and instead states in “plain, clear, and simple language” that it will only charge an overdraft fee when an account contains insufficient funds to cover the transaction at issue.

The case looks to represent FCU checking account holders who, during the applicable statute of limitations period, were charged overdraft fees on APPSN transactions on a FCU checking account.

View class action filing here.

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