By Matthew Young, Attorney
All Credit Unions are faced with the daunting challenge of providing exceptional member service to its members while keeping its costs low. One of the more frustrating and costly circumstances surrounding this concept involve members or third parties requesting documents from the Credit Union. These could be requests from your members to produce lost statements or past, issued checks. Or such requests could come from third parties, typically in the form of a subpoena, to produce a litany of information which can be time consuming and costly to produce, particularly to Credit Unions on the receiving end of such requests. What’s worse, failure to respond appropriately to such document requests can lead to a court imposing sanctions against the Credit Union and possibly even the requesting party’s attorney’s fees.
While Credit Unions are acclimated to the concept of charging members for certain document requests, most don’t consider what cost can be imposed upon third parties requesting documents. Whether the requesting party is a government agency, litigant in a case, or a party to a divorce proceeding, these parties are required in most states to pay for the documents they are requesting, even with a valid subpoena.
In Ohio, reimbursement to Credit Unions for assembling or providing financial records is addressed in the Ohio Administrative Code. In particular, Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 1301:9-2-12. A Credit Union can charge for search and processing costs, reproduction costs, transportation costs and the detail for the those costs is set forth in subsection (A).
In circumstances where Credit Unions receive a significant request, perhaps one that involves producing substantial statements of account or negotiated checks, I recommend reviewing the permissible production charges under your State’s law. Thereafter, submit, in writing, the estimated cost to produce the documents and site to your State’s statute which allows for the charges. By submitting the estimate in writing, in advance of producing the requested documents, the Credit Union can better protect itself as it relates to any disputes regarding the production of documents and the related charges.
Of course, if a matter becomes contested in this regard, it is important to immediately contact your Credit Union’s attorney to properly handle such escalation. Being mindful of an ability to charge requesting parties for, often significant requests, you can reduce the burden and cost to the Credit Union of producing these documents. Indeed, typically, when a third party requests significant documentation and thereafter receives an estimate of the cost to produce the documentation, they will typically either cancel their request or significant redact it.