Comment for 1005.10 Preauthorized Transfers
10(a) Preauthorized Transfers to Consumer's Account
10(a)(1) Notice by Financial Institution
1. Content. No specific language is required for notice regarding receipt of a preauthorized transfer. Identifying the deposit is sufficient; however, simply providing the current account balance is not.
2. Notice of credit. A financial institution may use different methods of notice for various types or series of preauthorized transfers, and the institution need not offer consumers a choice of notice methods.
3. Positive notice. A periodic statement sent within two business days of the scheduled transfer, showing the transfer, can serve as notice of receipt.
4. Negative notice. The absence of a deposit entry (on a periodic statement sent within two business days of the scheduled transfer date) will serve as negative notice.
5. Telephone notice. If a financial institution uses the telephone notice option, the institution should be able in most instances to verify during a consumer's initial call whether a transfer was received. The institution must respond within two business days to any inquiry not answered immediately.
6. Phone number for passbook accounts. The financial institution may use any reasonable means necessary to provide the telephone number to consumers with passbook accounts that can only be accessed by preauthorized credits and that do not receive periodic statements. For example, it may print the telephone number in the passbook, or include the number with the annual error resolution notice.
7. Telephone line availability. To satisfy the readily-available standard, the financial institution must provide enough telephone lines so that consumers get a reasonably prompt response. The institution need only provide telephone service during normal business hours. Within its primary service area, an institution must provide a local or toll-free telephone number. It need not provide a toll-free number or accept collect long-distance calls from outside the area where it normally conducts business.
10(b) Written Authorization for Preauthorized Transfers From Consumer's Account
1. Preexisting authorizations. The financial institution need not require a new authorization before changing from paper-based to electronic debiting when the existing authorization does not specify that debiting is to occur electronically or specifies that the debiting will occur by paper means. A new authorization also is not required when a successor institution begins collecting payments.
2. Authorization obtained by third party. The account-holding financial institution does not violate the regulation when a third-party payee fails to obtain the authorization in writing or fails to give a copy to the consumer; rather, it is the third-party payee that is in violation of the regulation.
3. Written authorization for preauthorized transfers. The requirement that preauthorized EFTs be authorized by the consumer “only by a writing” cannot be met by a payee's signing a written authorization on the consumer's behalf with only an oral authorization from the consumer.
4. Use of a confirmation form. A financial institution or designated payee may comply with the requirements of this section in various ways. For example, a payee may provide the consumer with two copies of a preauthorization form, and ask the consumer to sign and return one and to retain the second copy.
5. Similarly authenticated. The similarly authenticated standard permits signed, written authorizations to be provided electronically. The writing and signature requirements of this section are satisfied by complying with the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, 15 U.S.C. 7001 et seq., which defines electronic records and electronic signatures. Examples of electronic signatures include, but are not limited to, digital signatures and security codes. A security code need not originate with the account-holding institution. The authorization process should evidence the consumer's identity and assent to the authorization. The person that obtains the authorization must provide a copy of the terms of the authorization to the consumer either electronically or in paper form. Only the consumer may authorize the transfer and not, for example, a third-party merchant on behalf of the consumer.
6. Requirements of an authorization. An authorization is valid if it is readily identifiable as such and the terms of the preauthorized transfer are clear and readily understandable.
7. Bona fide error. Consumers sometimes authorize third-party payees, by telephone or online, to submit recurring charges against a credit card account. If the consumer indicates use of a credit card account when in fact a debit card is being used, the payee does not violate the requirement to obtain a written authorization if the failure to obtain written authorization was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error, and if the payee maintains procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error. Procedures reasonably adapted to avoid error will depend upon the circumstances. Generally, requesting the consumer to specify whether the card to be used for the authorization is a debit (or check) card or a credit card is a reasonable procedure. Where the consumer has indicated that the card is a credit card (or that the card is not a debit or check card), the payee may rely on the consumer's statement without seeking further information about the type of card. If the payee believes, at the time of the authorization, that a credit card is involved, and later finds that the card used is a debit card (for example, because the consumer later brings the matter to the payee's attention), the payee must obtain a written and signed or (where appropriate) a similarly authenticated authorization as soon as reasonably possible, or cease debiting the consumer's account.
10(c) Consumer's Right to Stop Payment
1. Stop-payment order. The financial institution must honor an oral stop-payment order made at least three business days before a scheduled debit. If the debit item is resubmitted, the institution must continue to honor the stop-payment order (for example, by suspending all subsequent payments to the payee-originator until the consumer notifies the institution that payments should resume).
2. Revocation of authorization. Once a financial institution has been notified that the consumer's authorization is no longer valid, it must block all future payments for the particular debit transmitted by the designated payee-originator. But see comment 10(c)-3. The institution may not wait for the payee-originator to terminate the automatic debits. The institution may confirm that the consumer has informed the payee-originator of the revocation (for example, by requiring a copy of the consumer's revocation as written confirmation to be provided within 14 days of an oral notification). If the institution does not receive the required written confirmation within the 14-day period, it may honor subsequent debits to the account.
3. Alternative procedure for processing a stop-payment request. If an institution does not have the capability to block a preauthorized debit from being posted to the consumer's account - as in the case of a preauthorized debit made through a debit card network or other system, for example - the institution may instead comply with the stop-payment requirements by using a third party to block the transfer(s), as long as the consumer's account is not debited for the payment.
10(d) Notice of Transfers Varying in Amount
1. Preexisting authorizations. A financial institution holding the consumer's account does not violate the regulation if the designated payee fails to provide notice of varying amounts.
1. Range. A financial institution or designated payee that elects to offer the consumer a specified range of amounts for debiting (in lieu of providing the notice of transfers varying in amount) must provide an acceptable range that could be anticipated by the consumer. For example, if the transfer is for payment of a gas bill, an appropriate range might be based on the highest bill in winter and the lowest bill in summer.
2. Transfers to an account of the consumer held at another institution. A financial institution need not provide a consumer the option of receiving notice with each varying transfer, and may instead provide notice only when a debit to an account of the consumer falls outside a specified range or differs by more than a specified amount from the most recent transfer, if the funds are transferred and credited to an account of the consumer held at another financial institution. The specified range or amount, however, must be one that reasonably could be anticipated by the consumer, and the institution must notify the consumer of the range or amount at the time the consumer provides authorization for the preauthorized transfers. For example, if the transfer is for payment of interest for a fixed-rate certificate of deposit account, an appropriate range might be based on a month containing 28 days and a month containing 31 days.
10(e) Compulsory Use
1. Loan payments. Creditors may not require repayment of loans by electronic means on a preauthorized, recurring basis. A creditor may offer a program with a reduced annual percentage rate or other cost-related incentive for an automatic repayment feature, provided the program with the automatic payment feature is not the only loan program offered by the creditor for the type of credit involved. Examples include:
i. Mortgages with graduated payments in which a pledged savings account is automatically debited during an initial period to supplement the monthly payments made by the borrower.
ii. Mortgage plans calling for preauthorized biweekly payments that are debited electronically to the consumer's account and produce a lower total finance charge.
2. Overdraft. A financial institution may require the automatic repayment of an overdraft credit plan even if the overdraft extension is charged to an open-end account that may be accessed by the consumer in ways other than by overdrafts.
10(e)(2) Employment or Government Benefit
1. Payroll. An employer (including a financial institution) may not require its employees to receive their salary by direct deposit to any particular institution. An employer may require direct deposit of salary by electronic means if employees are allowed to choose the institution that will receive the direct deposit. Alternatively, an employer may give employees the choice of having their salary deposited at a particular institution (designated by the employer) or receiving their salary by another means, such as by check or cash.