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Comment for 1005.3 Coverage

3(a) General

1. Accounts covered. The requirements of the regulation apply only to an account for which an agreement for EFT services to or from the account has been entered into between:

i. The consumer and the financial institution (including an account for which an access device has been issued to the consumer, for example);

ii. The consumer and a third party (for preauthorized debits or credits, for example), when the account-holding institution has received notice of the agreement and the fund transfers have begun.

2. Automated clearing house (ACH) membership. The fact that membership in an ACH requires a financial institution to accept EFTs to accounts at the institution does not make every account of that institution subject to the regulation.

3. Foreign applicability. Regulation E applies to all persons (including branches and other offices of foreign banks located in the United States) that offer EFT services to residents of any state, including resident aliens. It covers any account located in the United States through which EFTs are offered to a resident of a state. This is the case whether or not a particular transfer takes place in the United States and whether or not the financial institution is chartered in the United States or a foreign country. The regulation does not apply to a foreign branch of a U.S. bank unless the EFT services are offered in connection with an account in a state as defined in § 1005.2(l).

3(b) Electronic Fund Transfer

3(b)(1) Definition

1. Fund transfers covered. The term “electronic fund transfer” includes:

i. A deposit made at an ATM or other electronic terminal (including a deposit in cash or by check) provided a specific agreement exists between the financial institution and the consumer for EFTs to or from the account to which the deposit is made.

ii. A transfer sent via ACH. For example, social security benefits under the U.S. Treasury's direct-deposit program are covered, even if the listing of payees and payment amounts reaches the account-holding institution by means of a computer printout from a correspondent bank.

iii. A preauthorized transfer credited or debited to an account in accordance with instructions contained on magnetic tape, even if the financial institution holding the account sends or receives a composite check.

iv. A transfer from the consumer's account resulting from a debit-card transaction at a merchant location, even if no electronic terminal is involved at the time of the transaction, if the consumer's asset account is subsequently debited for the amount of the transfer.

v. A transfer via ACH where a consumer has provided a check to enable the merchant or other payee to capture the routing, account, and serial numbers to initiate the transfer, whether the check is blank, partially completed, or fully completed and signed; whether the check is presented at POS or is mailed to a merchant or other payee or lockbox and later converted to an EFT; or whether the check is retained by the consumer, the merchant or other payee, or the payee's financial institution.

vi. A payment made by a bill payer under a bill-payment service available to a consumer via computer or other electronic means, unless the terms of the bill-payment service explicitly state that all payments, or all payments to a particular payee or payees, will be solely by check, draft, or similar paper instrument drawn on the consumer's account, and the payee or payees that will be paid in this manner are identified to the consumer.

2. Fund transfers not covered. The term “electronic fund transfer” does not include:

i. A payment that does not debit or credit a consumer asset account, such as a payroll allotment to a creditor to repay a credit extension (which is deducted from salary).

ii. A payment made in currency by a consumer to another person at an electronic terminal.

iii. A preauthorized check drawn by the financial institution on the consumer's account (such as an interest or other recurring payment to the consumer or another party), even if the check is computer-generated.

iv. Transactions arising from the electronic collection, presentment, or return of checks through the check collection system, such as through transmission of electronic check images.

3(b)(2) Electronic Fund Transfer Using Information From a Check

1. Notice at POS not furnished due to inadvertent error. If the copy of the notice under section 1005.3(b)(2)(ii) for electronic check conversion (ECK) transactions is not provided to the consumer at POS because of a bona fide unintentional error, such as when a terminal printing mechanism jams, no violation results if the payee maintains procedures reasonably adapted to avoid such occurrences.

2. Authorization to process a transaction as an EFT or as a check. In order to process a transaction as an EFT, or alternatively as a check, the payee must obtain the consumer's authorization to do so. A payee may, at its option, specify the circumstances under which a check may not be converted to an EFT. See model clauses in appendix A-6.

3. Notice for each transfer. Generally, a notice to authorize an electronic check conversion transaction must be provided for each transaction. For example, a consumer must receive a notice that the transaction will be processed as an EFT for each transaction at POS or each time a consumer mails a check in an accounts receivable (ARC) transaction to pay a bill, such as a utility bill, if the payee intends to convert a check received as payment. Similarly, the consumer must receive notice if the payee intends to collect a service fee for insufficient or uncollected funds via an EFT for each transaction whether at POS or if the consumer mails a check to pay a bill. The notice about when funds may be debited from a consumer's account and the non-return of consumer checks by the consumer's financial institution must also be provided for each transaction. However, if in an ARC transaction, a payee provides a coupon book to a consumer, for example, for mortgage loan payments, and the payment dates and amounts are set out in the coupon book, the payee may provide a single notice on the coupon book stating all of the required disclosures under paragraph (b)(2) of this section in order to obtain authorization for each conversion of a check and any debits via EFT to the consumer's account to collect any service fees imposed by the payee for insufficient or uncollected funds in the consumer's account. The notice must be placed on a conspicuous location of the coupon book that a consumer can retain - for example, on the first page, or inside the front cover.

4. Multiple payments/multiple consumers. If a merchant or other payee will use information from a consumer's check to initiate an EFT from the consumer's account, notice to a consumer listed on the billing account that a check provided as payment during a single billing cycle or after receiving an invoice or statement will be processed as a one-time EFT or as a check transaction constitutes notice for all checks provided in payment for the billing cycle or the invoice for which notice has been provided, whether the check(s) is submitted by the consumer or someone else. The notice applies to all checks provided in payment for the billing cycle or invoice until the provision of notice on or with the next invoice or statement. Thus, if a merchant or other payee receives a check as payment for the consumer listed on the billing account after providing notice that the check will be processed as a one-time EFT, the authorization from that consumer constitutes authorization to convert any other checks provided for that invoice or statement. Other notices required under this paragraph (b)(2) (for example, to collect a service fee for insufficient or uncollected funds via an EFT) provided to the consumer listed on the billing account also constitutes notice to any other consumer who may provide a check for the billing cycle or invoice.

5. Additional disclosures about ECK transactions at POS. When a payee initiates an EFT at POS using information from the consumer's check, and returns the check to the consumer at POS, the payee need not provide a notice to the consumer that the check will not be returned by the consumer's financial institution.

3(b)(3) Collection of Returned Item Fees via Electronic Fund Transfer

1. Fees imposed by account-holding institution. The requirement to obtain a consumer's authorization to collect a fee via EFT for the return of an EFT or check unpaid applies only to the person that intends to initiate an EFT to collect the returned item fee from the consumer's account. The authorization requirement does not apply to any fees assessed by the consumer's account-holding financial institution when it returns the unpaid underlying EFT or check or pays the amount of an overdraft.

2. Accounts receivable transactions. In an ARC transaction where a consumer sends in a payment for amounts owed (or makes an in-person payment at a biller's physical location, such as when a consumer makes a loan payment at a bank branch or places a payment in a drop box), a person seeking to electronically collect a fee for items returned unpaid must obtain the consumer's authorization to collect the fee in this manner. A consumer authorizes a person to electronically collect a returned item fee when the consumer receives notice, typically on an invoice or statement, that the person may collect the fee through an EFT to the consumer's account, and the consumer goes forward with the underlying transaction by providing payment. The notice must also state the dollar amount of the fee. However, an explanation of how that fee will be determined may be provided in place of the dollar amount of the fee if the fee may vary due to the amount of the transaction or due to other factors, such as the number of days the underlying transaction is left outstanding. For example, if a state law permits a maximum fee of $30 or 10% of the underlying transaction, whichever is greater, the person collecting the fee may explain how the fee is determined, rather than state a specific dollar amount for the fee.

3. Disclosure of dollar amount of fee for POS transactions. The notice provided to the consumer in connection with a POS transaction under § 1005.3(b)(3)(ii) must state the amount of the fee for a returned item if the dollar amount of the fee can be calculated at the time the notice is provided or mailed. For example, if notice is provided to the consumer at the time of the transaction, if the applicable state law sets a maximum fee that may be collected for a returned item based on the amount of the underlying transaction (such as where the amount of the fee is expressed as a percentage of the underlying transaction), the person collecting the fee must state the actual dollar amount of the fee on the notice provided to the consumer. Alternatively, if the amount of the fee to be collected cannot be calculated at the time of the transaction (for example, where the amount of the fee will depend on the number of days a debt continues to be owed), the person collecting the fee may provide a description of how the fee will be determined on both the posted notice as well as on the notice provided at the time of the transaction. However, if the person collecting the fee elects to send the consumer notice after the person has initiated an EFT to collect the fee, that notice must state the amount of the fee to be collected.

4. Third party providing notice. The person initiating an EFT to a consumer's account to electronically collect a fee for an item returned unpaid may obtain the authorization and provide the notices required under § 1005.3(b)(3) through third parties, such as merchants.

3(c) Exclusions From Coverage

3(c)(1) Checks

1. Re-presented checks. The electronic re-presentment of a returned check is not covered by Regulation E because the transaction originated by check. Regulation E does apply, however, to any fee debited via an EFT from a consumer's account by the payee because the check was returned for insufficient or uncollected funds. The person debiting the fee electronically must obtain the consumer's authorization.

2. Check used to capture information for a one-time EFT. See comment 3(b)(1)-1.v.

3(c)(2) Check Guarantee or Authorization

1. Memo posting. Under a check guarantee or check authorization service, debiting of the consumer's account occurs when the check or draft is presented for payment. These services are exempt from coverage, even when a temporary hold on the account is memo-posted electronically at the time of authorization.

3(c)(3) Wire or Other Similar Transfers

1. Fedwire and ACH. If a financial institution makes a fund transfer to a consumer's account after receiving funds through Fedwire or a similar network, the transfer by ACH is covered by the regulation even though the Fedwire or network transfer is exempt.

2. Article 4A. Financial institutions that offer telephone-initiated Fedwire payments are subject to the requirements of UCC section 4A-202, which encourages verification of Fedwire payment orders pursuant to a security procedure established by agreement between the consumer and the receiving bank. These transfers are not subject to Regulation E and the agreement is not considered a telephone plan if the service is offered separately from a telephone bill-payment or other prearranged plan subject to Regulation E. Regulation J of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (12 CFR part 210) specifies the rules applicable to funds handled by Federal Reserve Banks. To ensure that the rules for all fund transfers through Fedwire are consistent, the Board of Governors used its preemptive authority under UCC section 4A-107 to determine that subpart B of the Board's Regulation J, including the provisions of Article 4A, applies to all fund transfers through Fedwire, even if a portion of the fund transfer is governed by the EFTA. The portion of the fund transfer that is governed by the EFTA is not governed by subpart B of the Board's Regulation J.

3. Similar fund transfer systems. Fund transfer systems that are similar to Fedwire include the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS), Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), Telex, and transfers made on the books of correspondent banks.

3(c)(4) Securities and Commodities Transfers

1. Coverage. The securities exemption applies to securities and commodities that may be sold by a registered broker-dealer or futures commission merchant, even when the security or commodity itself is not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

2. Example of exempt transfer. The exemption applies to a transfer involving a transfer initiated by a telephone order to a stockbroker to buy or sell securities or to exercise a margin call.

3. Examples of nonexempt transfers. The exemption does not apply to a transfer involving:

i. A debit card or other access device that accesses a securities or commodities account such as a money market mutual fund and that the consumer uses for purchasing goods or services or for obtaining cash.

ii. A payment of interest or dividends into the consumer's account (for example, from a brokerage firm or from a Federal Reserve Bank for government securities).

3(c)(5) Automatic Transfers by Account-Holding Institution

1. Automatic transfers exempted. The exemption applies to:

i. Electronic debits or credits to consumer accounts for check charges, stop-payment charges, non-sufficient funds (NSF) charges, overdraft charges, provisional credits, error adjustments, and similar items that are initiated automatically on the occurrence of certain events.

ii. Debits to consumer accounts for group insurance available only through the financial institution and payable only by means of an aggregate payment from the institution to the insurer.

iii. EFTs between a thrift institution and its paired commercial bank in the state of Rhode Island, which are deemed under state law to be intra-institutional.

iv. Automatic transfers between a consumer's accounts within the same financial institution, even if the account holders on the two accounts are not identical.

2. Automatic transfers not exempted. Transfers between accounts of the consumer at affiliated institutions (such as between a bank and its subsidiary or within a holding company) are not intra-institutional transfers, and thus do not qualify for the exemption.

3(c)(6) Telephone-Initiated Transfers

1. Written plan or agreement. A transfer that the consumer initiates by telephone is covered by Regulation E if the transfer is made under a written plan or agreement between the consumer and the financial institution making the transfer. A written statement available to the public or to account holders that describes a service allowing a consumer to initiate transfers by telephone constitutes a plan; for example, a brochure, or material included with periodic statements. The following, however, do not by themselves constitute a written plan or agreement:

i. A hold-harmless agreement on a signature card that protects the institution if the consumer requests a transfer.

ii. A legend on a signature card, periodic statement, or passbook that limits the number of telephone-initiated transfers the consumer can make from a savings account because of reserve requirements under Regulation D of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (12 CFR part 204).

iii. An agreement permitting the consumer to approve by telephone the rollover of funds at the maturity of an instrument.

2. Examples of covered transfers. When a written plan or agreement has been entered into, a transfer initiated by a telephone call from a consumer is covered even though:

i. An employee of the financial institution completes the transfer manually (for example, by means of a debit memo or deposit slip).

ii. The consumer is required to make a separate request for each transfer.

iii. The consumer uses the plan infrequently.

iv. The consumer initiates the transfer via a facsimile machine.

v. The consumer initiates the transfer using a financial institution's audio-response or voice-response telephone system.

3(c)(7) Small Institutions

1. Coverage. This exemption is limited to preauthorized transfers; institutions that offer other EFTs must comply with the applicable sections of the regulation as to such services. The preauthorized transfers remain subject to sections 913, 916, and 917 of the Act and § 1005.10(e), and are therefore exempt from UCC Article 4A.