CFPB and Financial Regulators Issue Guidance on How Banks Handle Consumer Deposit Account Discrepancies

Interagency Guidance Details Supervisory Expectations for Preventing Consumer Harm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and four federal financial regulatory agencies issued guidance providing supervisory expectations on how financial institutions should handle consumer deposit discrepancies. The interagency guidance states that banks should avoid or reconcile, or resolve discrepancies between the amount they credit to a consumer’s account and how much was actually deposited. The guidance calls on banks to adopt policies that treat consumers fairly when they make deposits and do not violate law. 

“Consumers should not be denied timely access to the full amount of their deposits,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today’s guidance should make it clear that we expect financial institutions to take steps to handle and resolve deposit discrepancies and avoid consumer harm.” 

Today’s interagency guidance is available at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201605_cfpb_interagency-guidance-regarding-deposit-reconciliation-practices.pdf

When a consumer makes a deposit, in some instances, the sum the bank credits to the account may be different from the total amount deposited. These deposit discrepancies can occur for several reasons, such as the amount written on a deposit slip does not match the cash transferred into the bank. In other instances, there might be encoding errors or a poor image capture by the bank when it scans or reads a deposit slip. Financial institutions use a variety of approaches to fully reconcile deposit discrepancies, including technology solutions. 

Today’s interagency guidance outlines the laws and regulations that apply to deposit discrepancy practices. If a financial institution fails to comply with applicable laws and regulations, including prohibitions against unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices, it could open it up to liability and possible action by an agency. 

The interagency guidance is being issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller (OCC) of the Currency, and the CFPB. 

On August 12, 2015, the CFPB, OCC, and FDIC took action against Citizens Bank, N.A., for failing to credit consumers the full amounts of the their deposited funds. The CFPB’s consent order requires the bank to provide approximately $11 million in refunds to consumers and pay a $7.5 million penalty for the violations. 

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.