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Justice Dept Sues Visa, Mastercard

October 7, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department today sued Visa and MasterCard, the nation’s two largest credit card networks, on grounds they limited credit card competition.

Together, Visa and MasterCard account for 75 percent all credit card purchases in the United States, the government said.

In a lawsuit filed in New York, the department’s antitrust division challenged the joint control of the networks by the same group of large banks. The lawsuit also challenges rules imposed by both Visa and MasterCard barring banks that issue their cards from doing business with other, smaller competing credit card networks, like American Express and Discover.

``These exclusionary rules deny consumers the ability to choose among a maximum variety of card products,″ Attorney General Janet Reno told a news conference. ``America’s consumers have lost out.″

The action grows out of an extensive investigation begun after a complaint nearly two years ago from American Express.

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