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FDIC Consumer News - Summer 2001

Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

Federal Laws That Can Help
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) protects you against accounting errors and unauthorized withdrawals involving debit card transactions (deducted directly from your bank account) by personal computer, ATM or other electronic device, if you report the problem promptly. Perhaps the biggest protection for online shoppers is the right to correct errors or unauthorized charges if you contact your financial institution within 60 days after the statement containing the problem was sent. Also, in cases of lost or stolen cards, "the EFTA limits your liability for unauthorized transfers to a maximum of $50 if you notify the bank within two days after discovering the loss or theft," explains FDIC attorney Robert Patrick. Eric Kooistra of the FDIC's Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs notes that in many situations the major bank cards will voluntarily cover all losses from unauthorized transfers "as a way to promote worry-free use of your credit card and debit card online."

The Fair Credit Billing Act, part of the Truth in Lending Act, generally protects consumers from unauthorized transfers, billing errors and other liability when they make an online payment using a credit card. This law also may allow you to withhold payment on defective goods or services purchased with a credit card.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 gives you the limited right to "opt out" or stop your financial institutions from sharing personal information with non-affiliated third parties. Rules from the FDIC and other federal regulators say that if you use your credit card or debit card to conduct transactions online, the personal information collected in the process is subject to the opt-out provisions of the law. A financial services company that does business on the Internet also is required to clearly state its privacy policy. (See "The Latest on Your New Rights to Privacy".)

Note: Consumer protections also may exist in state laws.

Government Agencies That Can Help
Federal banking regulators enforce consumer protection laws involving transactions with the federally insured banks, savings associations or credit unions they supervise.

The Federal Trade Commission enforces consumer laws involving nondepository institutions. Write to the FTC's Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 130, Washington, DC 20580, call toll-free 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357). The Web site also includes consumer brochures about safe shopping online, identity theft and Internet frauds to avoid.

Your state government or the state government where the company is located may have the authority to assist consumers in matters involving alleged fraud or unfair or deceptive practices. Start with the state's Attorney General's office, which you can locate in the government (blue) pages in your local phone book or from the National Association of Attorneys General.

The Internet Fraud Complaint Center, a joint effort of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, accepts consumer complaints about possible Internet scams.

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Last Updated 08/29/2001 communications@fdic.gov