Skip to main content

Comment for 1005.17 Requirements for Overdraft Services

17(a) Definition

1. Exempt securities- and commodities-related lines of credit. The definition of “overdraft service” does not include the payment of transactions in a securities or commodities account pursuant to which credit is extended by a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

17(b) Opt-In Requirement

1. Scope.

i. Account-holding institutions. Section 1005.17(b) applies to ATM and one-time debit card transactions made with a debit card issued by or on behalf of the account-holding institution. Section 1005.17(b) does not apply to ATM and one-time debit card transactions made with a debit card issued by or through a third party unless the debit card is issued on behalf of the account-holding institution.

ii. Coding of transactions. A financial institution complies with the rule if it adapts its systems to identify debit card transactions as either one-time or recurring. If it does so, the financial institution may rely on the transaction's coding by merchants, other institutions, and other third parties as a one-time or a preauthorized or recurring debit card transaction.

iii. One-time debit card transactions. The opt-in applies to any one-time debit card transaction, whether the card is used, for example, at a point-of-sale, in an online transaction, or in a telephone transaction.

iv. Application of fee prohibition. The prohibition on assessing overdraft fees under § 1005.17(b)(1) applies to all institutions. For example, the prohibition applies to an institution that has a policy and practice of declining to authorize and pay any ATM or one-time debit card transactions when the institution has a reasonable belief at the time of the authorization request that the consumer does not have sufficient funds available to cover the transaction. However, the institution is not required to comply with §§ 1005.17(b)(1)(i)-(iv), including the notice and opt-in requirements, if it does not assess overdraft fees for paying ATM or one-time debit card transactions that overdraw the consumer's account. Assume an institution does not provide an opt-in notice, but authorizes an ATM or one-time debit card transaction on the reasonable belief that the consumer has sufficient funds in the account to cover the transaction. If, at settlement, the consumer has insufficient funds in the account (for example, due to intervening transactions that post to the consumer's account), the institution is not permitted to assess an overdraft fee or charge for paying that transaction.

2. No affirmative consent. A financial institution may pay overdrafts for ATM and one-time debit card transactions even if a consumer has not affirmatively consented or opted in to the institution's overdraft service. If the institution pays such an overdraft without the consumer's affirmative consent, however, it may not impose a fee or charge for doing so. These provisions do not limit the institution's ability to debit the consumer's account for the amount overdrawn if the institution is permitted to do so under applicable law.

3. Overdraft transactions not required to be authorized or paid. Section 1005.17 does not require a financial institution to authorize or pay an overdraft on an ATM or one-time debit card transaction even if the consumer has affirmatively consented to an institution's overdraft service for such transactions.

4. Reasonable opportunity to provide affirmative consent. A financial institution provides a consumer with a reasonable opportunity to provide affirmative consent when, among other things, it provides reasonable methods by which the consumer may affirmatively consent. A financial institution provides such reasonable methods, if:

i. By mail. The institution provides a form for the consumer to fill out and mail to affirmatively consent to the service.

ii. By telephone. The institution provides a readily-available telephone line that consumers may call to provide affirmative consent.

iii. By electronic means. The institution provides an electronic means for the consumer to affirmatively consent. For example, the institution could provide a form that can be accessed and processed at its Web site, where the consumer may click on a check box to provide consent and confirm that choice by clicking on a button that affirms the consumer's consent.

iv. In person. The institution provides a form for the consumer to complete and present at a branch or office to affirmatively consent to the service.

5. Implementing opt-in at account-opening. A financial institution may provide notice regarding the institution's overdraft service prior to or at account-opening. A financial institution may require a consumer, as a necessary step to opening an account, to choose whether or not to opt into the payment of ATM or one-time debit card transactions pursuant to the institution's overdraft service. For example, the institution could require the consumer, at account opening, to sign a signature line or check a box on a form (consistent with comment 17(b)-6) indicating whether or not the consumer affirmatively consents at account opening. If the consumer does not check any box or provide a signature, the institution must assume that the consumer does not opt in. Or, the institution could require the consumer to choose between an account that does not permit the payment of ATM or one-time debit card transactions pursuant to the institution's overdraft service and an account that permits the payment of such overdrafts, provided that the accounts comply with § 1005.17(b)(2) and § 1005.17(b)(3).

6. Affirmative consent required. A consumer's affirmative consent, or opt-in, to a financial institution's overdraft service must be obtained separately from other consents or acknowledgements obtained by the institution, including a consent to receive disclosures electronically. An institution may obtain a consumer's affirmative consent by providing a blank signature line or check box that the consumer could sign or select to affirmatively consent, provided that the signature line or check box is used solely for purposes of evidencing the consumer's choice whether or not to opt into the overdraft service and not for other purposes. An institution does not obtain a consumer's affirmative consent by including preprinted language about the overdraft service in an account disclosure provided with a signature card or contract that the consumer must sign to open the account and that acknowledges the consumer's acceptance of the account terms. Nor does an institution obtain a consumer's affirmative consent by providing a signature card that contains a pre-selected check box indicating that the consumer is requesting the service.

7. Confirmation. A financial institution may comply with the requirement in § 1005.17(b)(1)(iv) to provide confirmation of the consumer's affirmative consent by mailing or delivering to the consumer a copy of the consumer's completed opt-in notice, or by mailing or delivering a letter or notice to the consumer acknowledging that the consumer has elected to opt into the institution's service. The confirmation, which must be provided in writing, or electronically if the consumer agrees, must include a statement informing the consumer of the right to revoke the opt-in at any time. See § 1005.17(d)(6), which permits institutions to include the revocation statement on the initial opt-in notice. An institution complies with the confirmation requirement if it has adopted reasonable procedures designed to ensure that overdraft fees are assessed only in connection with transactions paid after the confirmation has been mailed or delivered to the consumer.

8. Outstanding Negative Balance. If a fee or charge is based on the amount of the outstanding negative balance, an institution is prohibited from assessing any such fee if the negative balance is solely attributable to an ATM or one-time debit card transaction, unless the consumer has opted into the institution's overdraft service for ATM or one-time debit card transactions. However, the rule does not prohibit an institution from assessing such a fee if the negative balance is attributable in whole or in part to a check, ACH, or other type of transaction not subject to the prohibition on assessing overdraft fees in § 1005.17(b)(1).

9. Daily or Sustained Overdraft, Negative Balance, or Similar Fee or Charge

i. Daily or sustained overdraft, negative balance, or similar fees or charges. If a consumer has not opted into the institution's overdraft service for ATM or one-time debit card transactions, the fee prohibition in § 1005.17(b)(1) applies to all overdraft fees or charges for paying those transactions, including but not limited to daily or sustained overdraft, negative balance, or similar fees or charges. Thus, where a consumer's negative balance is solely attributable to an ATM or one-time debit card transaction, the rule prohibits the assessment of such fees unless the consumer has opted in. However, the rule does not prohibit an institution from assessing daily or sustained overdraft, negative balance, or similar fees or charges if a negative balance is attributable in whole or in part to a check, ACH, or other type of transaction not subject to the fee prohibition. When the negative balance is attributable in part to an ATM or one-time debit card transaction, and in part to a check, ACH, or other type of transaction not subject to the fee prohibition, the date on which such a fee may be assessed is based on the date on which the check, ACH, or other type of transaction is paid into overdraft.

ii. Examples. The following examples illustrate how an institution complies with the fee prohibition. For each example, assume the following: (a) The consumer has not opted into the payment of ATM or one-time debit card overdrafts; (b) these transactions are paid into overdraft because the amount of the transaction at settlement exceeded the amount authorized or the amount was not submitted for authorization; (c) under the account agreement, the institution may charge a per-item fee of $20 for each overdraft, and a one-time sustained overdraft fee of $20 on the fifth consecutive day the consumer's account remains overdrawn; (d) the institution posts ATM and debit card transactions before other transactions; and (e) the institution allocates deposits to account debits in the same order in which it posts debits.

A. Assume that a consumer has a $50 account balance on March 1. That day, the institution posts a one-time debit card transaction of $60 and a check transaction of $40. The institution charges an overdraft fee of $20 for the check overdraft but cannot assess an overdraft fee for the debit card transaction. At the end of the day, the consumer has an account balance of negative $70. The consumer does not make any deposits to the account, and no other transactions occur between March 2 and March 6. Because the consumer's negative balance is attributable in part to the $40 check (and associated overdraft fee), the institution may charge a sustained overdraft fee on March 6 in connection with the check.

B. Same facts as in A., except that on March 3, the consumer deposits $40 in the account. The institution allocates the $40 to the debit card transaction first, consistent with its posting order policy. At the end of the day on March 3, the consumer has an account balance of negative $30, which is attributable to the check transaction (and associated overdraft fee). The consumer does not make any further deposits to the account, and no other transactions occur between March 4 and March 6. Because the remaining negative balance is attributable to the March 1 check transaction, the institution may charge a sustained overdraft fee on March 6 in connection with the check.

C. Assume that a consumer has a $50 account balance on March 1. That day, the institution posts a one-time debit card transaction of $60. At the end of that day, the consumer has an account balance of negative $10. The institution may not assess an overdraft fee for the debit card transaction. On March 3, the institution pays a check transaction of $100 and charges an overdraft fee of $20. At the end of that day, the consumer has an account balance of negative $130. The consumer does not make any deposits to the account, and no other transactions occur between March 4 and March 8. Because the consumer's negative balance is attributable in part to the check, the institution may assess a $20 sustained overdraft fee. However, because the check was paid on March 3, the institution must use March 3 as the start date for determining the date on which the sustained overdraft fee may be assessed. Thus, the institution may charge a $20 sustained overdraft fee on March 8.

iii. Alternative approach. For a consumer who does not opt into the institution's overdraft service for ATM and one-time debit card transactions, an institution may also comply with the fee prohibition in § 1005.17(b)(1) by not assessing daily or sustained overdraft, negative balance, or similar fees or charges unless a consumer's negative balance is attributable solely to check, ACH or other types of transactions not subject to the fee prohibition while that negative balance remains outstanding. In such case, the institution would not have to determine how to allocate subsequent deposits that reduce but do not eliminate the negative balance. For example, if a consumer has a negative balance of $30, of which $10 is attributable to a one-time debit card transaction, an institution complies with the fee prohibition if it does not assess a sustained overdraft fee while that negative balance remains outstanding.

17(b)(2) Conditioning Payment of Other Overdrafts on Consumer's Affirmative Consent

1. Application of the same criteria. The prohibitions on conditioning in § 1005.17(b)(2) generally require an institution to apply the same criteria for deciding when to pay overdrafts for checks, ACH transactions, and other types of transactions, whether or not the consumer has affirmatively consented to the institution's overdraft service with respect to ATM and one-time debit card overdrafts. For example, if an institution's internal criteria would lead the institution to pay a check overdraft if the consumer had affirmatively consented to the institution's overdraft service for ATM and one-time debit card transactions, it must also apply the same criteria in a consistent manner in determining whether to pay the check overdraft if the consumer has not opted in.

2. No requirement to pay overdrafts on checks, ACH transactions, or other types of transactions. The prohibition on conditioning in § 1005.17(b)(2) does not require an institution to pay overdrafts on checks, ACH transactions, or other types of transactions in all circumstances. Rather, the rule simply prohibits institutions from considering the consumer's decision not to opt in when deciding whether to pay overdrafts for checks, ACH transactions, or other types of transactions.

17(b)(3) Same Account Terms, Conditions, and Features

1. Variations in terms, conditions, or features. A financial institution may not vary the terms, conditions, or features of an account provided to a consumer who does not affirmatively consent to the payment of ATM or one-time debit card transactions pursuant to the institution's overdraft service. This includes, but is not limited to:

i. Interest rates paid and fees assessed;

ii. The type of ATM or debit card provided to the consumer. For instance, an institution may not provide consumers who do not opt in a PIN-only card while providing a debit card with both PIN and signature-debit functionality to consumers who opt in;

iii. Minimum balance requirements; or

iv. Account features such as online bill payment services.

2. Limited-feature bank accounts. Section 1005.17(b)(3) does not prohibit institutions from offering deposit account products with limited features, provided that a consumer is not required to open such an account because the consumer did not opt in. For example, § 1005.17(b)(3) does not prohibit an institution from offering a checking account designed to comply with state basic banking laws, or designed for consumers who are not eligible for a checking account because of their credit or checking account history, which may include features limiting the payment of overdrafts. However, a consumer who applies, and is otherwise eligible, for a full-service or other particular deposit account product may not be provided instead with the account with more limited features because the consumer has declined to opt in.

17(c) Timing

1. Permitted fees or charges. Fees or charges for ATM and one-time debit card overdrafts may be assessed only for overdrafts paid on or after the date the financial institution receives the consumer's affirmative consent to the institution's overdraft service. See also comment 17(b)-7.

17(d) Content and Format

1. Overdraft service. The description of the institution's overdraft service should indicate that the consumer has the right to affirmatively consent, or opt into payment of overdrafts for ATM and one-time debit card transactions. The description should also disclose the institution's policies regarding the payment of overdrafts for other transactions, including checks, ACH transactions, and automatic bill payments, provided that this content is not more prominent than the description of the consumer's right to opt into payment of overdrafts for ATM and one-time debit card transactions. As applicable, the institution also should indicate that it pays overdrafts at its discretion, and should briefly explain that if the institution does not authorize and pay an overdraft, it may decline the transaction.

2. Maximum fee. If the amount of a fee may vary from transaction to transaction, the financial institution may indicate that the consumer may be assessed a fee “up to” the maximum fee. The financial institution must disclose all applicable overdraft fees, including but not limited to:

i. Per item or per transaction fees;

ii. Daily overdraft fees;

iii. Sustained overdraft fees, where fees are assessed when the consumer has not repaid the amount of the overdraft after some period of time (for example, if an account remains overdrawn for five or more business days); or

iv. Negative balance fees.

3. Opt-in methods. The opt-in notice must include the methods by which the consumer may consent to the overdraft service for ATM and one-time debit card transactions. Institutions may tailor Model Form A-9 to the methods offered to consumers for affirmatively consenting to the service. For example, an institution need not provide the tear-off portion of Model Form A-9 if it is only permitting consumers to opt-in telephonically or electronically. Institutions may, but are not required, to provide a signature line or check box where the consumer can indicate that he or she declines to opt in.

4. Identification of consumer's account. An institution may use any reasonable method to identify the account for which the consumer submits the opt-in notice. For example, the institution may include a line for a printed name and an account number, as shown in Model Form A-9. Or, the institution may print a bar code or use other tracking information. See also comment 17(b)-6, which describes how an institution obtains a consumer's affirmative consent.

5. Alternative plans for covering overdrafts. If the institution offers both a line of credit subject to Regulation Z (12 CFR part 1026) and a service that transfers funds from another account of the consumer held at the institution to cover overdrafts, the institution must state in its opt-in notice that both alternative plans are offered. For example, the notice might state “We also offer overdraft protection plans, such as a link to a savings account or to an overdraft line of credit, which may be less expensive than our standard overdraft practices.” If the institution offers one, but not the other, it must state in its opt-in notice the alternative plan that it offers. If the institution does not offer either plan, it should omit the reference to the alternative plans.

17(f) Continuing Right To Opt-In or To Revoke the Opt-In

1. Fees or charges for overdrafts incurred prior to revocation. Section 1005.17(f)(1) provides that a consumer may revoke his or her prior consent at any time. If a consumer does so, this provision does not require the financial institution to waive or reverse any overdraft fees assessed on the consumer's account prior to the institution's implementation of the consumer's revocation request.

17(g) Duration of Opt-In

1. Termination of overdraft service. A financial institution may, for example, terminate the overdraft service when the consumer makes excessive use of the service.