§ 1005.2 Definitions.
Except as otherwise provided in subpart B, for purposes of this part, the following definitions apply:
1. Examples. The term “access device” includes debit cards, personal identification numbers (PINs), telephone transfer and telephone bill payment codes, and other means that may be used by a consumer to initiate an electronic fund transfer (EFT) to or from a consumer account. The term does not include magnetic tape or other devices used internally by a financial institution to initiate electronic transfers.
2. Checks used to capture information. The term “access device” does not include a check or draft used to capture the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) encoding to initiate a one-time automated clearinghouse (ACH) debit. For example, if a consumer authorizes a one-time ACH debit from the consumer's account using a blank, partially completed, or fully completed and signed check for the merchant to capture the routing, account, and serial numbers to initiate the debit, the check is not an access device. (Although the check is not an access device under Regulation E, the transaction is nonetheless covered by the regulation. See comment 3(b)(1)-1.v.)
(1) “Access device” means a card, code, or other means of access to a consumer's account, or any combination thereof, that may be used by the consumer to initiate electronic fund transfers.
(2) An access device becomes an “accepted access device” when the consumer:
(i) Requests and receives, or signs, or uses (or authorizes another to use) the access device to transfer money between accounts or to obtain money, property, or services;
(ii) Requests validation of an access device issued on an unsolicited basis; or
(iii) Receives an access device in renewal of, or in substitution for, an accepted access device from either the financial institution that initially issued the device or a successor.
1. Consumer asset account. The term “consumer asset account” includes:
i. Club accounts, such as vacation clubs. In many cases, however, these accounts are exempt from the regulation under § 1005.3(c)(5) because all electronic transfers to or from the account have been preauthorized by the consumer and involve another account of the consumer at the same institution.
ii. A retail repurchase agreement (repo), which is a loan made to a financial institution by a consumer that is collateralized by government or government-insured securities.
2. Examples of accounts not covered by Regulation E (12 CFR part 1005) include:
i. Profit-sharing and pension accounts established under a trust agreement, which are exempt under § 1005.2(b)(2).
ii. Escrow accounts, such as those established to ensure payment of items such as real estate taxes, insurance premiums, or completion of repairs or improvements.
iii. Accounts for accumulating funds to purchase U.S. savings bonds.
(1) “Account” means a demand deposit (checking), savings, or other consumer asset account (other than an occasional or incidental credit balance in a credit plan) held directly or indirectly by a financial institution and established primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
(2) The term does not include an account held by a financial institution under a bona fide trust agreement.
1. Bona fide trust agreements. The term “bona fide trust agreement” is not defined by the Act or regulation; therefore, financial institutions must look to state or other applicable law for interpretation.
2. Custodial agreements. An account held under a custodial agreement that qualifies as a trust under the Internal Revenue Code, such as an individual retirement account, is considered to be held under a trust agreement for purposes of Regulation E.
(3) The term includes a prepaid account.
(i) “Prepaid account” means:
1. Debit card includes prepaid card. For purposes of subpart A of Regulation E, unless otherwise specified, the term debit card also includes a prepaid card.
2. Certain employment-related cards not covered as payroll card accounts. The term “payroll card account” does not include an account used solely to disburse incentive-based payments (other than commissions which can represent the primary means through which a consumer is paid), such as bonuses, which are unlikely to be a consumer's primary source of salary or other compensation. The term also does not include an account used solely to make disbursements unrelated to compensation, such as petty cash reimbursements or travel per diem payments. Similarly, a payroll card account does not include an account that is used in isolated instances to which an employer typically does not make recurring payments, such as when providing final payments or in emergency situations when other payment methods are unavailable. While such accounts would not be payroll card accounts, such accounts could constitute prepaid accounts generally, provided the other conditions of the definition of that term in § 1005.2(b)(3) are satisfied. In addition, all transactions involving the transfer of funds to or from a payroll card account or prepaid account are covered by the regulation, even if a particular transaction involves payment of a bonus, other incentive-based payment, or reimbursement, or the transaction does not represent a transfer of wages, salary, or other employee compensation.
3. Marketed or labeled as “prepaid.” The term “marketed or labeled as ‘prepaid’” means promoting or advertising an account using the term “prepaid.” For example, an account is marketed or labeled as prepaid if the term “prepaid” appears on the access device associated with the account or the access device’s packaging materials, or on a display, advertisement, or other publication to promote purchase or use of the account. An account may be marketed or labeled as prepaid if the financial institution, its service provider, including a program manager, or the payment network on which an access device for the account is used, promotes or advertises, or contracts with another party to promote or advertise, the account using the label “prepaid.” A product or service that is marketed or labeled as prepaid is not a “prepaid account” pursuant to § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(C) if it does not otherwise meet the definition of account under § 1005.2(b)(1).
4. Issued on a prepaid basis. To be issued on a prepaid basis, a prepaid account must be loaded with funds when it is first provided to the consumer for use. For example, if a consumer purchases a prepaid account and provides funds that are loaded onto a card at the time of purchase, the prepaid account is issued on a prepaid basis.
5. Capable of being loaded with funds. A prepaid account that is not issued on a prepaid basis but is capable of being loaded with funds thereafter includes a prepaid card issued to a consumer with a zero balance to which funds may be loaded by the consumer or a third party subsequent to issuance.
6. Product acting as a pass-through vehicle for funds. To satisfy § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D), a prepaid account must be issued on a prepaid basis or be capable of being loaded with funds. This means that the prepaid account must be capable of holding funds, rather than merely acting as a pass-through vehicle. For example, if a product, such as a digital wallet, is only capable of storing a consumer’s payment credentials for other accounts but is incapable of having funds stored on it, such a product is not a prepaid account. However, if a product allows a consumer to transfer funds, which can be stored before the consumer designates a destination for the funds, the product satisfies § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D).
7. Not required to be reloadable. Prepaid accounts need not be reloadable by the consumer or a third party.
8. Primary function. To satisfy § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D), an account’s primary function must be to provide consumers with general transaction capability, which includes the general ability to use loaded funds to conduct transactions with multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services, or at automated teller machines, or to conduct person-to-person transfers. This definition excludes accounts that provide such capability only incidentally. For example, the primary function of a brokerage account is to hold funds so that the consumer can conduct transactions through a licensed broker or firm, not to conduct transactions with multiple, unaffiliated merchants for good or services, or at automated teller machines, or to conduct person-to-person transfers. Similarly, the primary function of a savings account is to accrue interest on funds held in the account; such accounts restrict the extent to which the consumer can conduct general transactions and withdrawals. Accordingly, brokerage accounts and savings accounts do not satisfy § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D), and thus are not prepaid accounts as defined by § 1005.2(b)(3). The following examples provide additional guidance:
i. An account’s primary function is to enable a consumer to conduct transactions with multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services, at automated teller machines, or to conduct person-to-person transfers, even if the account also enables a third party to disburse funds to a consumer. For example, a prepaid account that conveys tax refunds or insurance proceeds to a consumer meets the primary function test if the account can be used, e.g., to purchase goods or services at multiple, unaffiliated merchants.
ii. Whether an account satisfies § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D) is determined by reference to the account, not the access device associated with the account. An account satisfies § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D) even if the account’s access device can be used for other purposes, for example, as a form of identification. Such accounts may include, for example, a prepaid account used to disburse student loan proceeds via a card device that can be used at unaffiliated merchants or to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine, even if that access device also acts as a student identification card.
iii. Where multiple accounts are associated with the same access device, the primary function of each account is determined separately. One or more accounts can satisfy § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D) even if other accounts associated with the same access device do not. For example, a student identification card may act as an access device associated with two separate accounts: An account used to conduct transactions with multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services, and an account used to conduct closed-loop transactions on campus. The account used to conduct transactions with multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services satisfies § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D), even though the account used to conduct closed-loop transactions does not (and as such the latter is not a prepaid account as defined by § 1005.2(b)(3)).
iv. An account satisfies § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D) if its primary function is to provide general transaction capability, even if an individual consumer does not in fact use it to conduct multiple transactions. For example, the fact that a consumer may choose to withdraw the entire account balance at an automated teller machine or transfer it to another account held by the consumer does not change the fact that the account’s primary function is to provide general transaction capability.
v. An account whose primary function is other than to conduct transactions with multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services, or at automated teller machines, or to conduct person-to-person transfers, does not satisfy § 1005.2(b)(3)(i)(D). Such accounts may include, for example, a product whose only function is to make a one-time transfer of funds into a separate prepaid account.
9. Redeemable upon presentation at multiple, unaffiliated merchants. For guidance, see comments 20(a)(3)–1 and –2.
10. Person-to-person transfers. A prepaid account whose primary function is to conduct person-to-person transfers is an account that allows a consumer to send funds by electronic fund transfer to another consumer or business. An account may qualify as a prepaid account if its primary function is person-to-person transfers even if it is neither redeemable upon presentation at multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services, nor usable at automated teller machines. A transaction involving a store gift card would not be a person-to-person transfer if it could only be used to make payments to the merchant or affiliated group of merchants on whose behalf the card was issued.
(A) A “payroll card account,” which is an account that is directly or indirectly established through an employer and to which electronic fund transfers of the consumer’s wages, salary, or other employee compensation (such as commissions) are made on a recurring basis, whether the account is operated or managed by the employer, a third-party payroll processor, a depository institution, or any other person; or
(B) A “government benefit account,” as defined in § 1005.15(a)(2); or
(C) An account that is marketed or labeled as “prepaid” and that is redeemable upon presentation at multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services or usable at automated teller machines; or
(D) An account:
(1) That is issued on a prepaid basis in a specified amount or not issued on a prepaid basis but capable of being loaded with funds thereafter,
(2) Whose primary function is to conduct transactions with multiple, unaffiliated merchants for goods or services, or at automated teller machines, or to conduct person-to-person transfers, and
(3) That is not a checking account, share draft account, or negotiable order of withdrawal account.
(ii) For purposes of paragraphs (b)(3)(i)(C) and (D) of this section, the term “prepaid account” does not include:
1. Excluded health care and employee benefit related prepaid products. For purposes of § 1005.2(b)(3)(ii)(A), “health savings account” means a health savings account as defined in 26 U.S.C. 223(d); “flexible spending arrangement” means a health benefits or a health flexible spending arrangement pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 125; “medical savings account” means an Archer MSA as defined in 26 U.S.C. 220(d); “health reimbursement arrangement” means a health reimbursement arrangement which is treated as employer-provided coverage under an accident or health plan for purposes of 26 U.S.C. 106; “dependent care assistance program” means a dependent care assistance program pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 129; and “transit or parking reimbursement arrangement” means a qualified transportation fringe benefit provided by an employer pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 132.
2. Excluded disaster relief funds. For purposes of § 1005.2(b)(3)(ii)(B), “qualified disaster relief funds” means funds made available through a qualified disaster relief program as defined in 26 U.S.C. 139(b).
3. Marketed and labeled as a gift card or gift certificate. Section 1005.2(b)(3)(ii)(D) excludes, among other things, reloadable general-use prepaid cards that are both marketed and labeled as gift cards or gift certificates, whereas § 1005.20(b)(2) excludes such products that are marketed or labeled as gift cards or gift certificates. Comment 20(b)(2)–2 describes, in part, a network-branded GPR card that is principally advertised as a less-costly alternative to a bank account but is promoted in a television, radio, newspaper, or internet advertisement, or on signage as “the perfect gift” during the holiday season. For purposes of § 1005.20, such a product would be considered marketed as a gift card or gift certificate because of this occasional holiday marketing activity. For purposes of § 1005.2(b)(3)(ii)(D), however, such a product would not be considered to be both marketed and labeled as a gift card or gift certificate and thus would be covered by the definition of prepaid account.
4. Loyalty, award, or promotional gift cards. Section 1005.2(b)(3)(ii)(D)(3) excludes loyalty, award, or promotional gift cards as defined in § 1005.20(a)(4); those cards are excluded from coverage under § 1005.20 pursuant to § 1005.20(b)(3). Section 1005.2(b)(3)(ii)(D)(3) also excludes cards that satisfy the criteria in § 1005.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) and are excluded from coverage under § 1005.20 pursuant to § 1005.20(b)(4) because they are not marketed to the general public; such products are not required to set forth the disclosures enumerated in § 1005.20(a)(4)(iii) in order to be excluded pursuant to § 1005.2(b)(3)(ii)(D)(3).
(A) An account that is loaded only with funds from a health savings account, flexible spending arrangement, medical savings account, health reimbursement arrangement, dependent care assistance program, or transit or parking reimbursement arrangement;
(B) An account that is directly or indirectly established through a third party and loaded only with qualified disaster relief payments;
(C) The person-to-person functionality of an account established by or through the United States government whose primary function is to conduct closed-loop transactions on U.S. military installations or vessels, or similar government facilities;
(1) A gift certificate as defined in § 1005.20(a)(1) and (b);
(2) A store gift card as defined in § 1005.20(a)(2) and (b);
(3) A loyalty, award, or promotional gift card as defined in § 1005.20(a)(4), or that satisfies the criteria in § 1005.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) and is excluded from § 1005.20 pursuant to § 1005.20(b)(4); or
(4) A general-use prepaid card as defined in § 1005.20(a)(3) and (b) that is both marketed and labeled as a gift card or gift certificate; or
(E) An account established for distributing needs-tested benefits in a program established under state or local law or administered by a state or local agency, as set forth in § 1005.15(a)(2).
(c) “Act” means the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Title IX of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 1693 et seq.).
(d) “Business day” means any day on which the offices of the consumer's financial institution are open to the public for carrying on substantially all business functions.
1. Duration. A business day includes the entire 24-hour period ending at midnight, and a notice required by the regulation is effective even if given outside normal business hours. The regulation does not require, however, that a financial institution make telephone lines available on a 24-hour basis.
2. Substantially all business functions. Substantially all business functions include both the public and the back-office operations of the institution. For example, if the offices of an institution are open on Saturdays for handling some consumer transactions (such as deposits, withdrawals, and other teller transactions), but not for performing internal functions (such as investigating account errors), then Saturday is not a business day for that institution. In this case, Saturday does not count toward the business-day standard set by the regulation for reporting lost or stolen access devices, resolving errors, etc.
3. Short hours. A financial institution may determine, at its election, whether an abbreviated day is a business day. For example, if an institution engages in substantially all business functions until noon on Saturdays instead of its usual 3 p.m. closing, it may consider Saturday a business day.
4. Telephone line. If a financial institution makes a telephone line available on Sundays for reporting the loss or theft of an access device, but performs no other business functions, Sunday is not a business day under the substantially all business functions standard.
(e) “Consumer” means a natural person.
(f) “Credit” means the right granted by a financial institution to a consumer to defer payment of debt, incur debt and defer its payment, or purchase property or services and defer payment therefor.
(g) “Electronic fund transfer” is defined in § 1005.3.
(h) “Electronic terminal” means an electronic device, other than a telephone operated by a consumer, through which a consumer may initiate an electronic fund transfer. The term includes, but is not limited to, point-of-sale terminals, automated teller machines (ATMs), and cash dispensing machines.
1. Point-of-sale (POS) payments initiated by telephone. Because the term “electronic terminal” excludes a telephone operated by a consumer, a financial institution need not provide a terminal receipt when:
i. A consumer uses a debit card at a public telephone to pay for the call.
ii. A consumer initiates a transfer by a means analogous in function to a telephone, such as by home banking equipment or a facsimile machine.
2. POS terminals. A POS terminal that captures data electronically, for debiting or crediting to a consumer's asset account, is an electronic terminal for purposes of Regulation E even if no access device is used to initiate the transaction. See § 1005.9 for receipt requirements.
3. Teller-operated terminals. A terminal or other computer equipment operated by an employee of a financial institution is not an electronic terminal for purposes of the regulation. However, transfers initiated at such terminals by means of a consumer's access device (using the consumer's PIN, for example) are EFTs and are subject to other requirements of the regulation. If an access device is used only for identification purposes or for determining the account balance, the transfers are not EFTs for purposes of the regulation.
See interpretation of 2(h) Electronic Terminal in Supplement I
(i) “Financial institution” means a bank, savings association, credit union, or any other person that directly or indirectly holds an account belonging to a consumer, or that issues an access device and agrees with a consumer to provide electronic fund transfer services, other than a person excluded from coverage of this part by section 1029 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, title X of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376.
(j) “Person” means a natural person or an organization, including a corporation, government agency, estate, trust, partnership, proprietorship, cooperative, or association.
(k) “Preauthorized electronic fund transfer” means an electronic fund transfer authorized in advance to recur at substantially regular intervals.
1. Advance authorization. A preauthorized electronic fund transfer under Regulation E is one authorized by the consumer in advance of a transfer that will take place on a recurring basis, at substantially regular intervals, and will require no further action by the consumer to initiate the transfer. In a bill-payment system, for example, if the consumer authorizes a financial institution to make monthly payments to a payee by means of EFTs, and the payments take place without further action by the consumer, the payments are preauthorized EFTs. In contrast, if the consumer must take action each month to initiate a payment (such as by entering instructions on a touch-tone telephone or home computer), the payments are not preauthorized EFTs.
See interpretation of 2(k) Preauthorized Electronic Fund Transfer in Supplement I
(l) “State” means any state, territory, or possession of the United States; the District of Columbia; the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; or any political subdivision of the thereof in this paragraph (l).
(m) “Unauthorized electronic fund transfer” means an electronic fund transfer from a consumer's account initiated by a person other than the consumer without actual authority to initiate the transfer and from which the consumer receives no benefit. The term does not include an electronic fund transfer initiated:
1. Transfer by institution's employee. A consumer has no liability for erroneous or fraudulent transfers initiated by an employee of a financial institution.
2. Authority. If a consumer furnishes an access device and grants authority to make transfers to a person (such as a family member or co-worker) who exceeds the authority given, the consumer is fully liable for the transfers unless the consumer has notified the financial institution that transfers by that person are no longer authorized.
3. Access device obtained through robbery or fraud. An unauthorized EFT includes a transfer initiated by a person who obtained the access device from the consumer through fraud or robbery.
4. Forced initiation. An EFT at an ATM is an unauthorized transfer if the consumer has been induced by force to initiate the transfer.
5. Reversal of direct deposits. The reversal of a direct deposit made in error is not an unauthorized EFT when it involves:
i. A credit made to the wrong consumer's account;
ii. A duplicate credit made to a consumer's account; or
iii. A credit in the wrong amount (for example, when the amount credited to the consumer's account differs from the amount in the transmittal instructions).
See interpretation of 2(m) Unauthorized Electronic Fund Transfer in Supplement I
(1) By a person who was furnished the access device to the consumer's account by the consumer, unless the consumer has notified the financial institution that transfers by that person are no longer authorized;
(2) With fraudulent intent by the consumer or any person acting in concert with the consumer; or
(3) By the financial institution or its employee.