Comment for 1026.11 - Treatment of Credit Balances; Account Termination
11(a) Credit Balances
1. Timing of refund. The creditor may also fulfill its obligations under § 1026.11 by:
i. Refunding any credit balance to the consumer immediately.
ii. Refunding any credit balance prior to receiving a written request (under § 1026.11(a)(2)) from the consumer.
iii. Refunding any credit balance upon the consumer's oral or electronic request.
iv. Making a good faith effort to refund any credit balance before 6 months have passed. If that attempt is unsuccessful, the creditor need not try again to refund the credit balance at the end of the 6-month period.
2. Amount of refund. The phrases any part of the remaining credit balance in § 1026.11(a)(2) and any part of the credit balance remaining in the account in § 1026.11(a)(3) mean the amount of the credit balance at the time the creditor is required to make the refund. The creditor may take into consideration intervening purchases or other debits to the consumer's account (including those that have not yet been reflected on a periodic statement) that decrease or eliminate the credit balance.
1. Written requests - standing orders. The creditor is not required to honor standing orders requesting refunds of any credit balance that may be created on the consumer's account.
1. Good faith effort to refund. The creditor must take positive steps to return any credit balance that has remained in the account for over 6 months. This includes, if necessary, attempts to trace the consumer through the consumer's last known address or telephone number, or both.
2. Good faith effort unsuccessful. Section 1026.11 imposes no further duties on the creditor if a good faith effort to return the balance is unsuccessful. The ultimate disposition of the credit balance (or any credit balance of $1 or less) is to be determined under other applicable law.
11(b) Account Termination
1. Expiration date. The credit agreement determines whether or not an open-end plan has a stated expiration (maturity) date. Creditors that offer accounts with no stated expiration date are prohibited from terminating those accounts solely because a consumer does not incur a finance charge, even if credit cards or other access devices associated with the account expire after a stated period. Creditors may still terminate such accounts for inactivity consistent with § 1026.11(b)(2).
11(c) Timely Settlement of Estate Debts
1. Administrator of an estate. For purposes of § 1026.11(c), the term “administrator” means an administrator, executor, or any personal representative of an estate who is authorized to act on behalf of the estate.
2. Examples. The following are examples of reasonable procedures that satisfy this rule:
i. A card issuer may decline future transactions and terminate the account upon receiving reasonable notice of the consumer's death.
ii. A card issuer may credit the account for fees and charges imposed after the date of receiving reasonable notice of the consumer's death.
iii. A card issuer may waive the estate's liability for all charges made to the account after receiving reasonable notice of the consumer's death.
iv. A card issuer may authorize an agent to handle matters in accordance with the requirements of this rule.
v. A card issuer may require administrators of an estate to provide documentation indicating authority to act on behalf of the estate.
vi. A card issuer may establish or designate a department, business unit, or communication channel for administrators, such as a specific mailing address or toll-free number, to handle matters in accordance with the requirements of this rule.
vii. A card issuer may direct administrators, who call a general customer service toll-free number or who send correspondence by mail to an address for general correspondence, to an appropriate customer service representative, department, business unit, or communication channel to handle matters in accordance with the requirements of this rule.
2. Request by an administrator of an estate. A card issuer may receive a request for the amount of the balance on a deceased consumer's account in writing or by telephone call from the administrator of an estate. If a request is made in writing, such as by mail, the request is received on the date the card issuer receives the correspondence.
3. Timely statement of balance. A card issuer must disclose the balance on a deceased consumer's account, upon request by the administrator of the decedent's estate. A card issuer may provide the amount, if any, by a written statement or by telephone. This does not preclude a card issuer from providing the balance amount to appropriate persons, other than the administrator, such as the spouse or a relative of the decedent, who indicate that they may pay any balance. This provision does not relieve card issuers of the requirements to provide a periodic statement, under § 1026.5(b)(2). A periodic statement, under § 1026.5(b)(2), may satisfy the requirements of § 1026.11(c)(2), if provided within 30 days of receiving a request by an administrator of the estate.
4. Imposition of fees and interest charges. Section 1026.11(c)(3) does not prohibit a card issuer from imposing fees and finance charges due to a periodic interest rate based on balances for days that precede the date on which the card issuer receives a request pursuant to § 1026.11(c)(2). For example, if the last day of the billing cycle is June 30 and the card issuer receives a request pursuant to § 1026.11(c)(2) on June 25, the card issuer may charge interest that accrued prior to June 25.
5. Example. A card issuer receives a request from an administrator for the amount of the balance on a deceased consumer's account on March 1. The card issuer discloses to the administrator on March 25 that the balance is $1,000. If the card issuer receives payment in full of the $1,000 on April 24, the card issuer must waive or rebate any additional interest that accrued on the $1,000 balance between March 25 and April 24. If the card issuer receives a payment of $1,000 on April 25, the card issuer is not required to waive or rebate interest charges on the $1,000 balance in respect of the period between March 25 and April 25. If the card issuer receives a partial payment of $500 on April 24, the card issuer is not required to waive or rebate interest charges on the $1,000 balance in respect of the period between March 25 and April 25.
6. Application to joint accounts. A card issuer may impose fees and charges on an account of a deceased consumer if a joint accountholder remains on the account. If only an authorized user remains on the account of a deceased consumer, however, then a card issuer may not impose fees and charges.