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E*Trade Adds Sneaky Charge, Class Claims

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal class action claims online stock broker E*Trade Securities charges customers for not making enough trades, despite promising not to do that. For every inactive quarter, E*Trade takes $40, sometimes selling off people's stock to pay itself the fees, the class claims.

Lead plaintiff Joseph Roling says he noticed in 2007 that E*Trade "was making notes on his account for $40 'quarterly inactivity fees,'" taking the money every quarter he did not make a trade.

Roling says that when he complained, E*Trade representatives said they were "entitled to charge and collect such fees and told [him] there was nothing he could do to avoid the charges."

He claims this violates E*Trade's own policy, as stated on its Web site, which promises that E*Trade will "not charge fees when your account is inactive for a period of time."

By 2008, the value of stocks in Roling's account had dwindled down to the amount of inactivity fees E*Trade was charging him, so it sold his stocks and closed his account, he says.

He seeks restitution and class damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. He is represented by Sean Reis with Edelson McGuire of Irvine.

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