- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The attorney for a Mississippi-based check cashing company is criticizing a federal agency’s lawsuit against his client.

Dale Danks represents All American Check Cashing Inc., which operates in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. He said the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s lawsuit against All American is a “frivolous, bullish attempt to overshadow an industry by attacking a small, independent business owner.”

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, says the company instructed its employees not to tell customers what fees they were being charged. The lawsuit also says the company overcharged some customers and didn’t repay them.

“All American has and will continue to cooperate with both the federal and state authorities and welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend all allegations throughout the judicial process,” Danks said in a statement Friday.

The lawsuit seeks to block some of the company’s practices and to force it to pay refunds.

All American, based in Madison, Mississippi, has 52 stores and 175 employees in the three states. It started operating in March 1999 in Mississippi, July 2012 in Louisiana and October 2013 in Alabama.

The lawsuit says All American has made more than $1 million a year in fees for cashing 12,000 to 17,000 checks annually.

In Mississippi and Alabama, the company charges 3 percent of the amount of the check to cover government-issued checks and 5 percent to cash other checks; in Louisiana, it charges 2 percent for government checks and 5 percent for other checks; and in all three states, it charges a $5 minimum fee, the lawsuit says.

All American’s policy and training documents tell employees to “never tell the customer the fee,” and the company tells employees to deflect customers’ questions about fees as long as possible and to show customers their receipts as quickly as possible, the lawsuit says.

A company news release Friday said the allegations against All American have never been noted in any of the 17 years of examinations by governing agencies.

In June 2014, the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance ordered All American to stop some transactions such as using the proceeds from one delayed-deposit check to pay the principal or fee owed on any other delayed-deposit check. The department also ordered the company to turn over documents for regulators to investigate.

In January, All American filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the Mississippi department from taking disciplinary action that could shut down the business. In March, a judge denied the company’s request for a temporary restraining order against the state regulators. The company’s lawsuit against the state is still pending.


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