An East Alton woman and her father-in-law have filed a class action against Visa and local credit unions accusing them of deceptive practices.

The class action was filed Nov. 12 in Madison County Circuit Court on behalf of all Illinois citizens who bought a Visa gift card from Services Credit Union or Olin Community Credit Union and had the card's value reduced before its expiration date.

Karen and Gene Rhodes are the lead plaintiffs and are represented by Mark C. Goldenberg and Thomas P. Rosenfeld, of Edwardsville.

Karen says she bought a $50 Visa gift card from Olin Community Credit Union in November 2007. She says the card had "valid through December 2008" printed on the front. Karen says she gave the gift card to her father-in-law, Gene. However, when the first time Gene tried to use the Visa in late November or early December 2008, he was allegedly told there was only $2 available to use.

Karen contends she later found out that when she first bought the card for $50, its actual value was only $35 due to administrative fees of $2.50 deducted monthly. Because it was a pre-activated gift card, those fees had allegedly been subtracted for several months prior to Karen's purchase. She says she wasn't told of the charges at the time of purchase.

Karen says the $2.50 administrative fees continued to be deducted each month, reducing the card's value to just $2 before it was ever used.

The class action accuses Visa, Services Credit Union and Olin Community Credit Union of deceptive business practices, unjust enrichment and for violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. The Rhodes are asking for an unspecified amount of money for damages and court costs.

Madison County Circuit Court case no. 10-L-1155.

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