6500 - Consumer Protection
F. 229.13(e) Reasonable Cause To Doubt Collectibility
1. In the case of certain check deposits, if the bank has reasonable cause to believe the check is uncollectible, it may extend the time funds must be made available for withdrawal. This exception applies to local and nonlocal checks, as well as to checks that would otherwise be made available on the next (or second) business day after the day of deposit under § 229.10(c). When a bank places or extends a hold under this exception, it need not make the first $100 of a deposit available for withdrawal on the next business day, as otherwise would be required by § 229.10(c)(1)(vii). If the reasonable cause exception is invoked, the bank must include in the notice to its customer, required by § 229.13(g), the reason that the bank believes that the check is uncollectible.
2. The following are several examples of circumstances under which the reasonable cause exception may be invoked:
a. If a bank received a notice from the paying bank that a check was not paid and is being returned to the depositary bank, the depositary bank could place a hold on the check or extend a hold previously placed on that check, and notify the customer that the bank had received notice that the check is being returned. The exception could be invoked even if the notice were incomplete, if the bank had reasonable cause to believe that the notice applied to that particular check.
b. The depositary bank may have received information from the paying bank, prior to the presentment of the check, that gives the bank reasonable cause to believe that the check is uncollectible. For example, the paying bank may have indicated that payment has been stopped on the check, or that the drawer's account does not currently have sufficient funds to honor the check. Such information may provide sufficient basis to invoke this exception. In these cases, the depositary bank could invoke the exception and disclose as the reason the exception is being invoked the fact that information from the paying bank indicates that the check may not be paid.
c. The fact that a check is deposited more than six months after the date on the check (i.e. a stale check) is a reasonable indication that the check may be uncollectible, because under U.S.C. 4--404 a bank has no duty to its customer to pay a check that is more than six months old. Similarly, if a check being deposited is postdated (future dated), the bank may have a reasonable cause to believe the check is uncollectible, because the check may not be properly payable under U.C.C. 4--401. The bank, in its notice, should specify that the check is stale-dated or postdated.
d. There are reasons that may cause a bank to believe that a check is uncollectible that are based on confidential information. For example, a bank could conclude that a check being deposited is uncollectible based on its reasonable belief that the depositor is engaging in kiting activity. Reasonable belief as to the insolvency or pending insolvency of the drawer of the check or the drawee bank and that the checks will not be paid also may justify invoking this exception. In these cases, the bank may indicate, as the reason it is invoking the exception, that the bank has confidential information that indicates that the check might not be paid.
3. The Board has included a reasonable cause exception notice as a model notice in appendix C (C--13). The model notice includes several reasons for which this exception may be invoked. The Board does not intend to provide a comprehensive list of reasons for which this exception may be invoked; another reason that does not appear on the model notice may be used as the basis for extending a hold, if the reason satisfies the conditions for invoking this exception. A depositary bank may invoke the reasonable cause exception based on a combination of factors that give rise to a reasonable cause to doubt the collectibility of a check. In these cases, the bank should disclose the primary reasons for which the exception was invoked in accordance with paragraph (g) of this section.
4. The regulation provides that the determination that a check is uncollectible shall not be based on a class of checks or persons. For example, a depositary bank cannot invoke this exception simply because the check is drawn on a paying bank in a rural area and the depositary bank knows it will not have the opportunity to learn of nonpayment of that check before funds must be made available under the availability schedules. Similarly, a depositary bank cannot invoke the reasonable cause exception based on the race or national origin of the depositor.
5. If a depositary bank invokes this exception with respect to a particular check and does not provide a written notice to the depositor at the time of deposit, the depositary bank may not assess any overdraft fee (such as an "NSF" charge) or charge interest for use of overdraft credit, if the check is paid by the paying bank and these charges would not have occurred had the exception not been invoked. A bank may assess an overdraft fee under these circumstances, however, if it provides notice to the customer, in the notice of exception required by paragraph (g) of this section, that the fee may be subject to refund, and refunds the charges upon the request of the customer. The notice must state that the customer may be entitled to a refund of any overdraft fees that are assessed if the check being held is paid, and indicate where such requests for a refund of overdraft fees should be directed.
G. 229.13(f) Emergency Conditions
1. Certain emergency conditions may arise that delay the collection or return of checks, or delay the processing and updating of customer accounts. In the circumstances specified in this paragraph, the depositary bank may extend the holds that are placed on deposits of checks that are affected by such delays, if the bank exercises such diligence as the circumstances require. For example, if a bank learns that a check has been delayed in the process of collection due to severe weather conditions or other causes beyond its control, an emergency condition covered by this section may exist and the bank may place a hold on the check to reflect the delay. This exception applies to local and nonlocal checks, as well as checks that would otherwise be made available on the next (or second) business day after the day of deposit under § 229.10(c). When a bank places or extends a hold under this exception, it need not make the first $100 of a deposit available for withdrawal on the next business day, as otherwise would be required by § 229.10(c)(1)(vii). In cases where the emergency conditions exception does not apply, as in the case of deposits of cash or electronic payments under § 229.10(a) and (b), the depositary bank may not be liable for a delay in making funds available for withdrawal if the delay is due to a bona fide error such as an unavoidable computer malfunction.
H. 229.13(g) Notice of Exception
1. In general.
a. If a depositary bank invokes any of the safeguard exceptions to the schedules listed above, other than the new account or emergency conditions exception, and extends the hold on a deposit beyond the time periods permitted in §§ 229.10(c) and 229.12, it must provide a notice to its customer. Except in the cases described in paragraphs (g)(2) and (g)(3) of this section, notices must be given each time an exception hold is invoked and must state the customer's account number, the date of deposit, the reason the exception was invoked, and the time period within which funds will be available for withdrawal. For a customer that is not a consumer, a depositary bank satisfies the written-notice requirement by sending an electronic notice that displays the text and is in a form that the customer may keep, if the customer agrees to such means of notice. Information is in a form that the customer may keep if, for example, it can be downloaded or printed.
For a customer who is a consumer, a depositary bank satisfies the written-notice requirement by sending an electronic notice in compliance with the requirements of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (12 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.), which include obtaining the consumer's affirmative consent to such means of notice.
b. With respect to paragraph (g)(1), the requirement that the notice state the time period within which the funds shall be made available may be satisfied if the notice identifies the date the deposit is received and information sufficient to indicate when funds will be available and the amounts that will be available at those times. For example, for a deposit involving more than one check, the bank need not provide a notice that discloses when funds from each individual check in the deposit will be available for withdrawal; instead, the bank may provide a total dollar amount for each of the time periods when funds will be available, or provide the customer with an explanation of how to determine the amount of the deposit that will be held and when the funds will be available for deposit. Appendix C (C--12) contains a model notice.
c. For deposits made in person to an employee of the depositary bank, the notice generally must be given to the person making the deposit, i.e., "the depositor", at the time of deposit. The depositor need not be the customer holding the account. For other deposits, such as deposits received at an ATM, lobby deposit box, night depository, or through the mail, notice must be mailed to the customer not later than the close of the business day following the banking day on which the deposit was made.
d. Notice to the customer also may be provided at a later time, if the facts upon which the determination to invoke the exception do not become known to the depositary bank until after notice would otherwise have to be given. In these cases, the bank must mail the notice to the customer as soon as practicable, but not later than the business day following the day the facts become known. A bank is deemed to have knowledge when the facts are brought to the attention of the person or persons in the bank responsible for making the determination, or when the facts would have been brought to their attention if the bank had exercised due diligence.
e. In those cases described in paragraphs (g)(2) and (g)(3), the depositary bank need not provide a notice every time an exception hold is applied to a deposit. When paragraph (g)(2) or (g)(3) requires disclosure of the time period within which deposits subject to the exception generally will be available for withdrawal, the requirement may be satisfied if the one-time notice states when "on us," local, and nonlocal checks will be available for withdrawal if an exception is invoked.
2. One-time exception notice.
a. Under paragraph (g)(2), if a nonconsumer account (see Commentary to § 229.2(n)) is subject to the large deposit or redeposited check exception, the depositary bank may give its customer a single notice at or prior to the time notice must be provided under paragraph (g)(1). Notices provided under paragraph (g)(2) must contain the reason the exception may be invoked and the time period within which deposits subject to the exception will be available for withdrawal (see Model Notice C-14). A depositary bank may provide a one-time notice to a nonconsumer customer under paragraph (g)(2) only if each exception cited in the notice (the large deposit and/or the redeposited check exception) will be invoked for most check deposits to the customer's account to which the exception could apply. A one-time notice may state that the depositary bank will apply exception holds to certain subsets of deposits to which the large deposit or redeposited check exception may apply, and the notice should identify such subsets. For example, the depositary bank may apply the redeposited check exception only to checks that were redeposited automatically by the depositary bank in accordance with an agreement with the customer, rather than to all redeposited checks. In lieu of sending the one-time notice, a depositary bank may send individual hold notices for each deposit subject to the large deposit or redeposited check exception in accordance with § 229.13(g)(1) (see Model Notice C-12).
b. In the case of a deposit of multiple checks, the depositary bank has the discretion to place an exception hold on any combination of checks in excess of $5,000. The notice should enable a customer to determine the availability of the deposit in the case of a deposit of multiple checks. For example, if a customer deposits a $5,000 local check and a $5,000 nonlocal check, under the large deposit exception, the depositary bank may make funds available in the amount of (1) $100 on the first business day after deposit, $4,900 on the second business day after deposit (local check), and $5,000 on the eleventh business day after deposit (nonlocal check with 6-day exception hold), or (2) $100 on the first business day after deposit, $4,900 on the fifth business day after deposit (nonlocal check), and $5,000 on the seventh business day after deposit (local check with 5-day exception hold). The notice should reflect the bank's priorities in placing exception holds on next-day (or second-day), local, and nonlocal checks.
3. Notice of repeated overdraft exception. Under paragraph (g)(3), if an account is subject to the repeated overdraft exception, the depositary bank may provide one notice to its customer for each time period during which the exception will apply. Notices sent pursuant to paragraph (g)(3) must state the customer's account number, the fact the exception was invoked under the repeated overdraft exception, the time period within which deposits subject to the exception will be made available for withdrawal, and the time period during which the exception will apply (see Model Notice C-15). A depositary bank may provide a one-time notice to a customer under paragraph (g)(3) only if the repeated overdraft exception will be invoked for most check deposits to the customer's account.
4. Emergency conditions exception notice.
a. If an account is subject to the emergency conditions exception under § 229.13(f), the depositary bank must provide notice in a reasonable form within a reasonable time, depending on the circumstances. For example, a depositary bank may learn of a weather emergency or a power outage that affects the paying bank's operations. Under these circumstances, it likely would be reasonable for the depositary bank to provide an emergency conditions exception notice in the same manner and within the same time as required for other exception notices. On the other hand, if a depositary bank experiences a weather or power outage emergency that affects its own operations, it may be reasonable for the depositary bank to provide a general notice to all depositors via postings at branches and ATMs, or through newspaper, television, or radio notices.
b. If the depositary bank extends the hold placed on a deposit due to an emergency condition, the bank need not provide a notice if the funds would be available for withdrawal before the notice must be sent. For example, if on the last day of a hold period the depositary bank experiences a computer failure and customer accounts cannot be updated in a timely fashion to reflect the funds as available balances, notices are not required if the funds are made available before the notices must be sent.
5. Record retention. A depositary bank must retain a record of each notice of a reasonable cause exception for a period of two years, or such longer time as provided in the record retention requirements of § 229.21. This record must contain a brief description of the facts on which the depositary bank based its judgment that there was reasonable cause to doubt the collectibility of a check. In many cases, such as where the exception was invoked on the basis of a notice of nonpayment received, the record requirement may be met by retaining a copy of the notice sent to the customer. In other cases, such as where the exception was invoked on the basis of confidential information, a further description to the facts, such as insolvency of drawer, should be included in the record.
I. 229.13(h) Availability of Deposits Subject to Exceptions
1. If a depositary bank invokes any exception other than the new account exception, the bank may extend the time within which funds must be made available under the schedule by a reasonable period of time. This provision establishes that an extension of up to one business day for "on us" checks, five business days for local checks, and six business days for nonlocal checks and checks deposited in a nonproprietary ATM is reasonable. Under certain circumstances, however, a longer extension of the schedules may be reasonable. In these cases, the burden is placed on the depositary bank to establish that a longer period is reasonable.
2. For example, assume a bank extended the hold on a local check deposit by five business days based on its reasonable cause to believe that the check is uncollectible. If, on the day before the extended hold is scheduled to expire, the bank receives a notification from the paying bank that the check is being returned unpaid, the bank may determine that a longer hold is warranted, if it decides not to charge back the customer's account based on the notification. If the bank decides to extend the hold, the bank must send a second notice, in accordance with paragraph (g) of this section, indicating the new date that the funds will be available for withdrawal.
3. With respect to Treasury checks, U.S. Postal Service money orders, checks drawn on Federal Reserve Banks or Federal Home Loan Banks, state and local government checks, cashier's checks, certified checks, and teller's checks subject to the next-day (or second-day) availability requirement, the depositary bank may extend the time funds must be made available for withdrawal under the large deposit, redeposited check, repeated overdraft, or reasonable cause exception by a reasonable period beyond the delay that would have been permitted under the regulation had the checks not been subject to next-day (or second-day) availability requirement. The additional hold is added to the local or nonlocal schedule that would apply based on the location of the paying bank.
4. One business day for "on us" checks, five business days for local checks, and six business days for nonlocal checks or checks deposited in a nonproprietary ATM, in addition to the time period provided in the schedule, should provide adequate time for the depositary bank to learn of the nonpayment of virtually all checks that are returned. For example, if a customer deposits a $7,000 cashier's check drawn on a nonlocal bank, and the depositary bank applies the large deposit exception to that check, $5,000 must be available for withdrawal on the first business day after the day of deposit and the remaining $2,000 must be available for withdrawal on the eleventh business day following the day of deposit (six business days added to the five-day schedule for nonlocal checks), unless the depositary bank establishes that a longer hold is reasonable.
5. In the case of the application of the emergency conditions exception, the depositary bank may extend the hold placed on a check by not more than a reasonable period following the end of the emergency or the time funds must be available for withdrawal under §§ 229.10(c) or 229.12, whichever is later.
6. This provision does not apply to holds imposed under the new account exception. Under that exception, the maximum time period within which funds must be made available for withdrawal is specified for deposits that generally must be accorded next-day availability under § 229.10. This subpart does not specify the maximum time period within which the proceeds of local and nonlocal checks must be made available for withdrawal during the new account period.
VIII. Section 229.14 Payment of Interest
A. 229.14(a) In General
1. This section requires that a depositary bank begin accruing interest on interest-bearing accounts not later than the day on which the depositary bank receives credit for the funds deposited.3 A depositary bank generally receives credit on checks within one or two days following deposit. A bank receives credit on a cash deposit, an electronic payment, and the deposit of a check that is drawn on the depositary bank itself on the day the cash, electronic payment, or check is received. In the case of a deposit at a nonproprietary ATM, credit generally is received on the day the bank that operates the ATM credits the depositary bank for the amount of the deposit. In the case of a deposit at a contractual branch, credit is received on the day the depositary bank receives credit for the amount of the deposit, which may be different from the day the contractual branch receives credit for the deposit.
2. Because account includes only transaction accounts, other interest-bearing accounts of the depositary bank, such as money market deposit accounts, savings deposits, and time deposits, are not subject to this requirement; however, a bank may accrue interest on such deposits in the same way that it accrues interest under this paragraph for simplicity of operation. The Board intends the term interest to refer to payments to or for the account of any customer as compensation for the use of funds, but to exclude the absorption of expenses incident to providing a normal banking function or a bank's forbearance from charging a fee in connection with such a service. (See 12 CFR 217.2(d).) Thus, earnings credits often applied to corporate accounts are not interest payments for the purposes of this section.
3. It may be difficult for a depositary bank to track which day the depositary bank receives credit for specific checks in order to accrue interest properly on the account to which the check is deposited. This difficulty may be pronounced if the bank uses different means of collecting checks based on the time of day the check is received, the dollar amount of the check, and/or the paying bank to which it must be sent. Thus, for the purpose of the interest accrual requirement, a bank may rely on an availability schedule from its Federal Reserve bank, Federal Home Loan bank, or correspondent to determine when the depositary bank receives credit. If availability is delayed beyond that specified in the availability schedule, a bank may charge back interest erroneously accrued or paid on the basis of that schedule.
4. This paragraph also permits a depositary bank to accrue interest on checks deposited to all of its interest-bearing accounts based on when the bank receives credit on all checks sent for payment or collection. For example, if a bank receives credit on 20 percent of the funds deposited in the bank by check as of the business day of deposit (e.g., "on us" checks), 70 percent as of the business day following deposit, and 10 percent on the second business day following deposit, the bank can apply these percentages to determine the day interest must begin to accrue on check deposits to all interest-bearing accounts, regardless of when the bank received credit on the funds deposited in any particular account. Thus, a bank may begin accruing interest on a uniform basis for all interest-bearing accounts, without the need to track the type of check deposited to each account.
5. This section is not intended to limit a policy of a depositary bank that provides that interest accrues only on balances that exceed a specified amount, or on the minimum balance maintained in the account during a given period, provided that the balance is determined based on the date that the depositary bank receives credit for the funds. This section also is not intended to limit any policy providing that interest accrues sooner than required by this paragraph.
B. 229.14(b) Special Rule for Credit Unions
1. This provision implements a requirement in section 606(b) of the EFA Act, and provides an exemption from the payment-of-interest requirements for credit unions that do not begin to accrue interest or dividends on their customer accounts until a later date than the day the credit union receives credit for those deposits, including cash deposits. These credit unions are exempt from the payment-of-interest requirements, as long as they provide notice of their interest accrual policies in accordance with § 229.16(d). For example, if a credit union has a policy of computing interest on all deposits received by the 10th of the month from the first of that month, and on all deposits received after the 10th of the month from the first of the next month, that policy is not superseded by this regulation, if the credit union provides proper disclosure of this policy to its customers.
2. The EFA Act limits this exemption to credit unions; other types of banks must comply with the payment-of-interest requirements. In addition, credit unions that compute interest from the day of deposit or day of credit should not change their existing practices in order to avoid compliance with the requirement that interest accrue from the day the credit union receives credit.
C. 229.14(c) Exception for Checks Returned Unpaid
1. This provision is based on section 606(c) of the Act (12 U.S.C. 4005(c)) and provides that interest need not be paid on funds deposited in an interest-bearing account by check that has been returned unpaid, regardless of the reason for return.
IX. Section 229.15 General Disclosure Requirements
A. 229.15(a) Form of Disclosures
1. This paragraph sets forth the general requirements for the disclosures required under subpart B. All of the disclosures must be given in a clear and conspicuous manner, must be in writing, and, in most cases, must be in a form the customer may keep. A disclosure is in a form that the customer may keep if, for example, it can be downloaded or printed. For a customer that is not a consumer, a depositary bank satisfies the written-disclosure requirement by sending an electronic disclosure that displays the text and is in a form that the customer may keep, if the customer agrees to such means of disclosure. For a customer who is a consumer, a depositary bank satisfies the written-notice requirement by sending an electronic notice in compliance with the requirements of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (12 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.), which include obtaining the consumer's affirmative consent to such means of notice. Information is in a form that the customer may keep if, for example, it can be downloaded or printed. Appendix C of the regulation contains model forms, clauses, and notices to assist banks in preparing disclosures.
2. Disclosures concerning availability must be grouped together and may not contain any information that is not related to the disclosures required by this subpart. Therefore, banks may not intersperse the required disclosures with other account disclosures, and may not include other account information that is not related to their availability policy within the text of the required disclosures. Banks may, however, include information that is related to their availability policies. For example, a bank may inform its customers that, even when the bank has already made funds available for withdrawal, the customer is responsible for any problem with the deposit, such as the return of a deposited check.
3. The regulation does not require that the disclosures be segregated from other account terms and conditions. For example, banks may include the disclosure of their specific availability policy in a booklet or pamphlet that sets out all of the terms and conditions of the bank's accounts. The required disclosures must, however, be grouped together and highlighted or identified in some manner, for example, by use of a separate heading for the disclosures, such as "When Deposits are Available for Withdrawal."
4. A bank may, by agreement or at the consumer's request, provide any disclosure or notice required by subpart B in a language other than English, provided that the bank makes a complete disclosure available in English at the customer's request.
B. 229.15(b) Uniform Reference to Day of Availability
1. This paragraph requires banks to disclose in a uniform manner when deposited funds will be available for withdrawal. Banks must disclose when deposited funds are available for withdrawal by stating the business day on which the customer may begin to withdraw funds. The business day funds will be available must be disclosed as "the ____________________________________________ business day after" the day of deposit, or substantially similar language. The business day of availability is determined by counting the number of business days starting with the business day following the banking day on which the deposit is received, as determined under § 229.19(a), and ending with the business day on which the customer may begin to withdraw funds. For example, a bank that imposes delays of four intervening business days for nonlocal checks must describe those checks as being available on "the fifth business day after" the day of the deposit.
C. 229.15(c) Multiple Accounts and Multiple Account Holders
1. This paragraph clarifies that banks need not provide multiple disclosures under the regulation. A single disclosure to a customer that holds multiple accounts, or a single disclosure to one of the account holders of a jointly held account, satisfies the disclosure requirements of the regulation.
D. 229.15(d) Dormant or Inactive Accounts
1. This paragraph makes clear that banks need not provide disclosure of their specific availability policies to customers that hold accounts that are either dormant or inactive. The determination that certain accounts are dormant or inactive must be made by the bank. If a bank considers an account dormant or inactive for purposes other than this regulation and no longer provides statements and other mailings to an account for this reason, such an account is considered dormant or inactive for purposes of this regulation.
X. Section 229.16 Specific Availability Policy Disclosure
A. 229.16(a) General
1. This section describes the information that must be disclosed by banks to comply with §§ 229.17 and 229.18(d), which require that banks furnish notices of their specific policy regarding availability of deposited funds. The disclosure provided by a bank must reflect the availability policy followed by the bank in most cases, even though a bank may in some cases make funds available sooner or impose a longer delay.
2. The disclosure must reflect the policy and practice of the bank regarding availability as to most accounts and most deposits into those accounts. In disclosing the availability policy that it follows in most cases, a bank may provide a single disclosure that reflects one policy to all its transaction account customers, even though some of its customers may receive faster availability than that reflected in the policy disclosure. Thus, a bank need not disclose to some customers that they receive faster availability than indicated in the disclosure. If, however, a bank has a policy of imposing delays in availability on any customers longer than those specified in its disclosure, those customers must receive disclosures that reflect the longer applicable availability periods. A bank may establish different availability policies for different groups of customers, such as customers in a particular geographic area or customers of a particular branch. For purposes of providing a specific availability policy, the bank may allocate customers among groups through good faith use of a reasonable method. A bank may also establish different availability policies for deposits at different locations, such as deposits at a contractual branch.
3. A bank may disclose that funds are available for withdrawal on a given day notwithstanding the fact that the bank uses the funds to pay checks received before that day. For example, a bank may disclose that its policy is to make funds available from deposits of local checks on the second business day following the day of deposit, even though it may use the deposited funds to pay checks prior to the second business day; the funds used to pay checks in this example are not available for withdrawal until the second business day after deposit because the funds are not available for all uses until the second business day. (See the definition of available for withdrawal in § 229.2(d).)
B. 229.16(b) Content of Specific Policy Disclosure
1. This paragraph sets forth the items that must be included, as applicable, in a bank's specific availability policy disclosure. The information that must be disclosed by a particular bank will vary considerably depending upon the bank's availability policy. For example, a bank that makes deposited funds available for withdrawal on the business day following the day of deposit need simply disclose that deposited funds will be available for withdrawal on the first business day after the day of deposit, the bank's business days, and when deposits are considered received.
2. On the other hand, a bank that has a policy of routinely delaying on a blanket basis the time when deposited funds are available for withdrawal would have a more detailed disclosure. Such blanket hold policies might be for the maximum time allowed under the federal law or might be for shorter periods. These banks must disclose the types of deposits that will be subject to delays, how the customer can determine the type of deposit being made, and the day that funds from each type of deposit will be available for withdrawal.
3. Some banks may have a combination of next-day availability and blanket delays. For example, a bank may provide next-day availability for all deposits except for one or two categories, such as deposits at nonproprietary ATMs and nonlocal personal checks over a specified dollar amount. The bank would describe the categories that are subject to delays in availability and tell the customer when each category would be available for withdrawal, and state that other deposits will be available for withdrawal on the first business day after the day of deposit. Similarly, a bank that provides availability on the second business day for most of its deposits would need to identify the categories of deposits which, under the regulation, are subject to next-day availability and state that all other deposits will be available on the second business day.
4. Because many banks' availability policies may be complex, a bank must give a brief summary of its policy at the beginning of the disclosure. In addition, the bank must describe any circumstances when actual availability may be longer than the schedules disclosed. Such circumstances would arise, for example, when the bank invokes one of the exceptions set forth in § 229.13 of the regulation, or when the bank delays or extends the time when deposited funds are available for withdrawal up to the time periods allowed by the regulation on a case-by-case basis. Also, a bank that must make certain checks available faster under Appendix B (reduction of schedules for certain nonlocal checks) must state that some check deposits will be available for withdrawal sooner because of special rules and that a list of the pertinent routing numbers is available upon request.
5. Generally, a bank that distinguishes in its disclosure between local and nonlocal checks based on the routing number on the check must disclose to its customers that certain checks, such as some credit union payable-through drafts, will be treated as local or nonlocal based on the location of the bank by which they are payable (e.g., the credit union), and not on the basis of the location of the bank whose routing number appears on the check. A bank is not required to provide this disclosure, however, if it makes the proceeds of both local and nonlocal checks available for withdrawal within the time periods required for local checks in §§ 229.12 and 229.13.
6. The business day cut-off time used by the bank must be disclosed and if some locations have different cut-off times the bank must note this in the disclosure and state the earliest time that might apply. A bank need not list all of the different cut-off times that might apply. If a bank does not have a cut-off time prior to its closing time, the bank need not disclose a cut-off time.
7. A bank taking advantage of the extended time period for making deposits at nonproprietary ATMs available for withdrawal under § 229.12(f) must explain this in the initial disclosure. In addition, the bank must provide a list (on or with the initial disclosure) of either the bank's proprietary ATMs or those ATMs that are nonproprietary at which customers may make deposits. As an alternative to providing such a list, the bank may label all of its proprietary ATMs with the bank's name and state in the initial disclosure that this has been done. Similarly, a bank taking advantage of the cash withdrawal limitations of § 229.12(d), or the provision in § 229.19(e) allowing holds to be placed on other deposits when a deposit is made or a check is cashed, must explain this in the initial disclosure.
8. A bank that provides availability based on when the bank generally receives credit for deposited checks need not disclose the time when a check drawn on a specific bank will be available for withdrawal. Instead, the bank may disclose the categories of deposits that must be available on the first business day after the day of deposit (deposits subject to § 229.10) and state the other categories of deposits and the time periods that will be applicable to those deposits. For example, a bank might disclose the four-digit Federal Reserve routing symbol for local checks and indicate that such checks as well as certain nonlocal checks will be available for withdrawal on the first or second business day following the day of deposit, depending on the location of the particular bank on which the check is drawn, and disclose that funds from all other checks will be available on the second or third business day. The bank must also disclose that the customer may request a copy of the bank's detailed schedule that would enable the customer to determine the availability of any check and must provide such schedule upon request. A change in the bank's detailed schedule would not trigger the change in policy disclosure requirement of § 229.18(e).
C. 229.16(c) Longer Delays on a Case-by-Case Basis
1. Notice in specific policy disclosure.
a. Banks that make deposited funds available for withdrawal sooner than required by the regulation--for example, providing their customers with immediate or next-day availability for deposited funds--and delay the time when funds are available for withdrawal only from time to time determined on a case-by-case basis, must provide notice of this in their specific availability policy disclosure. This paragraph outlines the requirements for that notice.
b. In addition to stating what their specific availability policy is in most cases, banks that may delay or extend the time when deposits are available on a case-by-case basis must: state that from time to time funds may be available for withdrawal later than the time periods in their specific policy disclosure, disclose the latest time that a customer may have to wait for deposited funds to be available for withdrawal when a case-by-case hold is placed, state that customers will be notified when availability of a deposit is delayed on a case-by-case basis, and advise customers to ask if they need to be sure of the availability of a particular deposit.
c. A bank that imposes delays on a case-by-case basis is still subject to the availability requirements of this regulation. If the bank imposes a delay on a particular deposit that is not longer than the availability required by § 229.12 for local and nonlocal checks, the reason for the delay need not be based on the exceptions provided in § 229.13. If the delay exceeds the time periods permitted under § 229.12, however, then it must be based on an exception provided in § 229.13, and the bank must comply with the § 229.13 notice requirements. A bank that imposes delays on a case-by-case basis may avail itself of the one-time notice provisions in § 229.13(g)(2) and (3) for deposits to which those provisions apply.
2. Notice at time of case-by-case delay.
a. In addition to including the disclosures required by paragraph (c)(1) of this section in their specific availability policy disclosure, banks that delay or extend the time period when funds are available for withdrawal on a case-by-case basis must give customers a notice when availability of funds from a particular deposit will be delayed or extended beyond the time when deposited funds are generally available for withdrawal. The notice must state that a delay is being imposed and indicate when the funds will be available. In addition, the notice must include the account number, the date of the deposit, and the amount of the deposit being delayed.
b. If notice of the delay was not given at the time the deposit was made and the bank assesses overdraft or returned check fees on accounts when a case-by-case hold has been placed, the case-by-case hold notice provided to the customer must include a notice concerning overdraft or returned check fees. The notice must state that the customer may be entitled to a refund of any overdraft or returned check fees that result from the deposited funds not being available if the check that was deposited was in fact paid by the payor bank, and explain how to request a refund of any fees. (See § 229.16(c)(3).)
c. The requirement that the case-by-case hold notice state the day that funds will be made available for withdrawal may be met by stating the date or the number of business days after deposit that the funds will be made available. This requirement is satisfied if the notice provides information sufficient to indicate when funds will be available and the amounts that will be available at those times. For example, for a deposit involving more than one check, the bank need not provide a notice that discloses when funds from each individual item in the deposit will be available for withdrawal. Instead, the bank may provide a total dollar amount for each of the time periods when funds will be available, or provide the customer with an explanation of how to determine the amount of the deposit that will be held and when the held funds will be available for withdrawal.
d. For deposits made in person to an employee of the depositary bank, the notice generally must be given at the time of the deposit. The notice at the time of the deposit must be given to the person making the deposit, that is, the "depositor." The depositor need not be the customer holding the account. For other deposits, such as deposits received at an ATM, lobby deposit box, night depository, through the mail, or by armored car, notice must be mailed to the customer not later than the close of the business day following the banking day on which the deposit was made. Notice to the customer also may be provided not later than the close of the business day following the banking day on which the deposit was made if the decision to delay availability is made after the time of the deposit.
3. Overdraft and returned check fees. If a depositary bank delays or extends the time when funds from a deposited check are available for withdrawal on a case-by-case basis and does not provide a written notice to its depositor at the time of deposit, the depositary bank may not assess any overdraft or returned check fees (such as an insufficient funds charge) or charge interest for use of an overdraft line of credit, if the deposited check is paid by the paying bank and these fees would not have occurred had the additional case-by-case delay not been imposed. A bank may assess an overdraft or returned check fee under these circumstances, however, if it provides notice to the customer in the notice required by paragraph (c)(2) of this section that the fee may be subject to refund, and refunds the fee upon the request of the customer when required to do so. The notice must state that the customer may be entitled to a refund of any overdraft or returned check fees that are assessed if the deposited check is paid, and indicate where such requests for a refund of overdraft fees should be directed. Paragraph (c)(3) applies when a bank provides a case-by-case notice in accordance with paragraph (c)(2) and does not apply if the bank has provided an exception hold notice in accordance with § 229.13.
D. 229.16(d) Credit Union Notice of Interest Payment Policy
1. This paragraph sets forth the special disclosure requirement for credit unions that delay accrual of interest or dividends for all cash and check deposits beyond the date of receiving provisional credit for checks being deposited. (The interest payment requirement is set forth in § 229.14(a).) Such credit unions are required to describe their policy with respect to accrual of interest or dividends on deposits in their specific availability policy disclosure.
XI. Section 229.17 Initial Disclosures
A. This paragraph requires banks to provide a notice of their availability policy to all potential customers prior to opening an account. The requirement of a notice prior to opening an account requires banks to provide disclosures prior to accepting a deposit to open an account. Disclosures must be given at the time the bank accepts an initial deposit regardless of whether the bank has opened the account yet for the customer. If a bank, however, receives a written request by mail from a person asking that an account be opened and the request includes an initial deposit, the bank may open the account with the deposit, provided the bank mails the required disclosures to the customer not later than the business day following the banking day on which the bank receives the deposit. Similarly, if a bank receives a telephone request from a customer asking that an account be opened with a transfer from a separate account of the customer's at the bank, the disclosure may be mailed not later than the business day following the banking day of the request.
XII. Section 229.18 Additional Disclosure Requirements
A. 229.18(a) Deposit Slips
1. This paragraph requires banks to include a notice on all preprinted deposit slips. The deposit slip notice need only state, somewhere on the front of the deposit slip, that deposits may not be available for immediate withdrawal. The notice is required only on preprinted deposit slips--those printed with the customer's account number and name and furnished by the bank in response to a customer's order to the bank. A bank need not include the notice on deposit slips that are not preprinted and supplied to the customer--such as counter deposit slips--or on those special deposit slips provided to the customer under § 229.10(c). A bank is not responsible for ensuring that the notice appear on deposit slips that the customer does not obtain from or through the bank. This paragraph applies to preprinted deposit slips furnished to customers on or after September 1, 1988.
B. 229.18(b) Locations Where Employees Accept Consumer Deposits
1. This paragraph describes the statutory requirement that a bank post in each location where its employees accept consumer deposits a notice of its availability policy pertaining to consumer accounts. The notice that is required must specifically state the availability periods for the various deposits that may be made to consumer accounts. The notice need not be posted at each teller window, but the notice must be posted in a place where consumers seeking to make deposits are likely to see it before making their deposits. For example, the notice might be posted at the point where the line forms for teller service in the lobby. The notice is not required at any drive-through teller windows nor is it required at night depository locations, or at locations where consumer deposits are not accepted. A bank that acts as a contractual branch at a particular location must include the availability policy that applies to its own customers but need not include the policy that applies to the customers of the bank for which it is acting as a contractual branch.
C. 229.18(c) Automated Teller Machines
1. This paragraph sets forth the required notices for ATMs. Paragraph (c)(1) provides that the depositary bank is responsible for posting a notice on all ATMs at which deposits can be made to accounts at the depositary bank. The depositary bank may arrange for a third party, such as the owner or operator of the ATM, to post the notice and indemnify the depositary bank from liability if the depositary bank is liable under § 229.21 for the owner or operator failing to provide the required notice.
2. The notice may be posted on a sign, shown on the screen, or included on deposit envelopes provided at the ATM. This disclosure must be given before the customer has made the deposit. Therefore, a notice provided on the customer's deposit receipt or appearing on the ATM's screen after the customer has made the deposit would not satisfy this requirement.
3. Paragraph (c)(2) requires a depositary bank that operates an off-premise ATM from which deposits are removed not more than two times a week to make a disclosure of this fact on the off-premise ATM. The notice must disclose to the customer the days on which deposits made at the ATM will be considered received.
D. 229.18(d) Upon Request
1. This paragraph requires banks to provide written notice of their specific availability policy to any person upon that person's oral or written request. The notice must be sent within a reasonable period of time following receipt of the request.
E. 229.18(e) Changes in Policy
1. This paragraph requires banks to send notices to their customers when the banks change their availability policies with regard to consumer accounts. A notice may be given in any form as long as it is clear and conspicuous. If the bank gives notice of a change by sending the customer a complete new availability disclosure, the bank must direct the customer to the changed terms in the disclosure by use of a letter or insert, or by highlighting the changed terms in the disclosure.
2. Generally, a bank must send a notice at least 30 calendar days before implementing any change in its availability policy. If the change results in faster availability of deposits--for example, if the bank changes its availability for nonlocal checks from the fifth business day after deposit to the fourth business day after deposit--the bank need not send advance notice. The bank must, however, send notice of the change no later than 30 calendar days after the change is implemented. A bank is not required to give a notice when there is a change in Appendix B (reduction of schedules for certain nonlocal checks).
3. A bank that has provided its customers with a list of ATMs under § 229.16(b)(5) shall provide its customers with an updated list of ATMs once a year if there are changes in the list of ATMs previously disclosed to the customers.
XIII. Section 229.19 Miscellaneous
A. 229.19(a) When Funds Are Considered Deposited
1. The time funds must be made available for withdrawal under this subpart is determined by the day the deposit is made. This paragraph provides rules to determine the day funds are considered deposited in various circumstances.
2. Staffed facilities and ATMs. Funds received at a staffed teller station or ATM are considered deposited when received by the teller or placed in the ATM. Funds received at a contractual branch are considered deposited when received by a teller at the contractual branch or deposited into a proprietary ATM of the contractual branch. (See also, Commentary to § 229.10(c) on deposits made to an employee of the depositary bank.) Funds deposited to a deposit box in a bank lobby that is accessible to customers only during regular business hours generally are considered deposited when placed in the lobby box; a bank may, however, treat deposits to lobby boxes the same as deposits to night depositories (as provided in § 229.19(a)(3)), provided a notice appears on the lobby box informing the customer when such funds will be considered deposited.
3. Mail. Funds mailed to the depositary bank are considered deposited on the banking day they are received by the depositary bank. The funds are received by the depositary bank at the time the mail is delivered to the bank, even if it is initially delivered to a mail room, rather than the check processing area.
4. Other facilities.
a. In addition to deposits at staffed facilities, at ATMs, and by mail, funds may be deposited at a facility such as a night depository or a lock box. A night depository is a receptacle for receipt of deposits, typically used by corporate depositors when the branch is closed. Funds deposited at a night depository are considered deposited on the banking day the deposit is removed, and the contents of the deposit are accessible to the depositary bank for processing. For example, some businesses deposit their funds in a locked bag at the night depository late in the evening, and return to the bank the following day to open the bag. Other depositors may have an agreement with their bank that the deposit bag must be opened under the dual control of the bank and the depositor. In these cases, the funds are considered deposited when the customer returns to the bank and opens the deposit bag.
b. A lock box is a post office box used by a corporation for the collection of bill payments or other check receipts. The depositary bank generally assumes the responsibility for collecting the mail from the lock box, processing the checks, and crediting the corporation for the amount of the deposit. Funds deposited through a lock box arrangement are considered deposited on the day the deposit is removed from the lock box and are accessible to the depositary bank for processing.
5. Certain off-premise ATMs. A special provision is made for certain off-premise ATMs that are not serviced daily. Funds deposited at such an ATM are considered deposited on the day they are removed from the ATM, if the ATM is not serviced more than two times each week. This provision is intended to address the practices of some banks of servicing certain remote ATMs infrequently. If a depositary bank applies this provision with respect to an ATM, a notice must be posted at the ATM informing depositors that funds deposited at the ATM may not be considered deposited until a future day, in accordance with § 229.18.
6. Banking day of deposit.
a. This paragraph also provides that a deposit received on a day that the depositary bank is closed, or after the bank's cut-off hour, may be considered made on the next banking day. Generally, for purposes of the availability schedules of this subpart, a bank may establish a cut-off hour of 2 p.m. or later for receipt of deposits at its head office or branch offices. For receipt of deposits at ATMs, contractual branches or other off-premise facilities, such as night depositories or lock boxes, the depositary bank may establish a cut-off hour of 12 noon or later (either local time of the branch or other location of the depositary bank at which the account is maintained or local time of the ATM, contractual branch, or other off-premise facility). The depositary bank must use the same timing method for establishing the cut-off hour for all ATMs, contractual branches, and other off-premise facilities used by its customers. The choice of cut-off hour must be reflected in the bank's internal procedures, and the bank must inform its customers of the cut-off hour upon request. This earlier cut-off for ATM, contractual branch, or other off-premise deposits is intended to provide greater flexibility in the servicing of these facilities.
b. Different cut-off hours may be established for different types of deposits. For example, a bank may establish a 2 p.m. cut-off for the receipt of check deposits, but a later cut-off for the receipt of wire transfers. Different cut-off hours also may be established for deposits received at different locations. For example, a different cut-off may be established for ATM deposits than for over-the-counter deposits, or for different teller stations at the same branch. With the exception of the 12 noon cut-off for deposits at ATMs and off-premise facilities, no cut-off hour for receipt of deposits for purposes of this subpart can be established earlier than 2 p.m.
c. A bank is not required to remain open until 2 p.m. If a bank closes before 2 p.m., deposits received after the closing may be considered deposited on the next banking day. Further, as § 229.2(f) defines the term banking day as the portion of a business day on which a bank is open to the public for substantially all of its banking functions, a day, or a portion of a day, is not necessarily a banking day merely because the bank is open for only limited functions, such as keeping drive-in or walk-up teller windows open, when the rest of the bank is closed to the public. For example, a banking office that usually provides a full range of banking services may close at 12 noon but leave a drive-in teller window open for the limited purpose of receiving deposits and making cash withdrawals. Under those circumstances, the bank is considered closed and may consider deposits received after 12 noon as having been received on the next banking day. The fact that a bank may reopen for substantially all of its banking functions after 2 p.m., or that it continues its back office operations throughout the day, would not affect this result. A bank may not, however, close individual teller stations and reopen them for next-day's business before 2 p.m. during a banking day.
B. 229.19(b) Availability at Start of Business Day
1. If funds must be made available for withdrawal on a business day, the funds must be available for withdrawal by the later of 9 a.m. or the time the depositary bank's teller facilities, including ATMs, are available for customer account withdrawals, except under the special rule for cash withdrawals set forth in § 229.12(d). Thus, if a bank has no ATMs and its branch facilities are available for customer transactions beginning at 10 a.m., funds must be available for customer withdrawal beginning at 10 a.m. If the bank has ATMs that are available 24 hours a day, rather than establishing 12:01 a.m. as the start of the business day, this paragraph sets 9 a.m. as the start of the day with respect to ATM withdrawals. The Board believes that this rule provides banks with sufficient time to update their accounting systems to reflect the available funds in customer accounts for that day.
2. The start of business is determined by the local time of the branch or other location of the depositary bank at which the account is maintained. For example, if funds in a customer's account at a west coast bank are first made available for withdrawal at the start of business on a given day, and the customer attempts to withdraw the funds at an east coast ATM, the depositary bank is not required to make the funds available until 9 a.m. west coast time (12 noon east coast time).
C. 229.19(c) Effect on Policies of Depositary Bank
1. This subpart establishes the maximum hold that may be placed on customer deposits. A depositary bank may provide availability to its customers in a shorter time than prescribed in this subpart. A depositary bank also may adopt different funds availability policies for different segments of its customer base, as long as each policy meets the schedules in the regulation. For example, a bank may differentiate between its corporate and consumer customers, or may adopt different policies for its consumer customers based on whether a customer has an overdraft line of credit associated with the account.
2. This regulation does not affect a depositary bank's right to accept or reject a check for deposit, to charge back the customer's account based on a returned check or notice of nonpayment, or to claim a refund for any credit provided to the customer. For example, even if a check is returned or a notice of nonpayment is received after the time by which funds must be made available for withdrawal in accordance with this regulation, the depositary bank may charge back the customer's account for the full amount of the check. (See § 229.33(d) and Commentary.)
3. Nothing in the regulation requires a depositary bank to have facilities open for customers to make withdrawals at specified times or on specified days. For example, even though the special cash withdrawal rule set forth in § 229.12(d) states that a bank must make up to $400 available for cash withdrawals no later than 5 p.m. on specific business days, if a bank does not participate in an ATM system and does not have any teller windows open at or after 5 p.m., the bank need not join an ATM system or keep offices open. In this case, the bank complies with this rule if the funds that are required to be available for cash withdrawal at 5 p.m. on a particular day are available for withdrawal at the start of business on the following day. Similarly, if a depositary bank is closed for customer transactions, including ATMs, on a day funds must be made available for withdrawal, the regulation does not require the bank to open.
4. The special cash withdrawal rule in the EFA Act recognizes that the $400 that must be made available for cash withdrawal by 5 p.m. on the day specified in the schedule may exceed a bank's daily ATM cash withdrawal limit and explicitly provides that the EFA Act does not supersede a bank's policy in this regard. As a result, if a bank has a policy of limiting cash withdrawals from automated teller machines to $250 per day, the regulation would not require that the bank dispense $400 of the proceeds of the customer's deposit that must be made available for cash withdrawal on that day.
5. Even though the EFA Act clearly provides that the bank's ATM withdrawal limit is not superseded by the federal availability rules on the day funds must first be made available, the EFA Act does not specifically permit banks to limit cash withdrawals at ATMs on subsequent days when the entire amount of the deposit must be made available for withdrawal. The Board believes that the rationale behind the Act's provision that a bank's ATM withdrawal limit is not superseded by the requirement that funds be made available for cash withdrawal applies on subsequent days. Nothing in the regulation prohibits a depositary bank from establishing ATM cash withdrawal limits that vary among customers of the bank, as long as the limit is not dependent on the length of time funds have been in the customer's account (provided that the permissible hold has expired).
6. Some small banks, particularly credit unions, due to lack of secure facilities, keep no cash on their premises and hence offer no cash withdrawal capability to their customers. Other banks limit the amount of cash on their premises due to bonding requirements or cost factors, and consequently reserve the right to limit the amount of cash each customer can withdraw over-the-counter on a given day. For example, some banks require advance notice for large cash withdrawals in order to limit the amount of cash needed to be maintained on hand at any time.
7. Nothing in the regulation is intended to prohibit a bank from limiting the amount of cash that may be withdrawn at a staffed teller station if the bank has a policy limiting the amount of cash that may be withdrawn, and if that policy is applied equally to all customers of the bank, is based on security, operating, or bonding requirements, and is not dependent on the length of time the funds have been in the customer's account (as long as the permissible hold has expired). The regulation, however, does not authorize such policies if they are otherwise prohibited by statutory, regulatory, or common law.
D. 229.19(d) Use of Calculated Availability
1. A depositary bank may provide availability to its nonconsumer accounts on a calculated availability basis. Under calculated availability, a specified percentage of funds from check deposits may be made available to the customer on the next business day, with the remaining percentage deferred until subsequent days. The determination of the percentage of deposited funds that will be made available each day is based on the customer's typical deposit mix as determined by a sample of the customer's deposits. Use of calculated availability is permitted only if, on average, the availability terms that result from the sample are equivalent to or more prompt than the requirements of this subpart.
E. 229.19(e) Holds on Other Funds
1. Section 607(d) of the Act (12 U.S.C. 4006(d)) provides that once funds are available for withdrawal under the EFA Act, such funds shall not be frozen solely due to the subsequent deposit of additional checks that are not yet available for withdrawal. This provision of the EFA Act is designed to prevent evasion of the Act's availability requirements.
2. This paragraph clarifies that if a customer deposits a check in an account (as defined in § 229.2(a)), the bank may not place a hold on any of the customer's funds so that the funds that are held exceed the amount of the check deposited or the total amount of funds held are not made available for withdrawal within the times required in this subpart. For example, if a bank places a hold on funds in a customer's non transaction account, rather than a transaction account, for deposits made to the customer's transaction account, the bank may place such a hold only to the extent that the funds held do not exceed the amount of the deposit and the length of the hold does not exceed the time periods permitted by this regulation.
3. These restrictions also apply to holds placed on funds in a customer's account (as defined in § 229.2(a)) if a customer cashes a check at a bank (other than a check drawn on that bank) over the counter. The regulation does not prohibit holds that may be placed on other funds of the customer for checks cashed over the counter, to the extent that the transaction does not involve a deposit to an account. A bank may not, however, place a hold on any account when an "on us" check is cashed over the counter. "On us" checks are considered finally paid when cashed (see U.C.C. 4--215(a)(1)). When a customer cashes a check over the counter and the bank places a hold on an account of the customer, the bank must give whatever notice would have been required under §§ 229.13 or 229.16 had the check been deposited in the account.
F. 229.19(f) Employee Training and Compliance
1. The EFA Act requires banks to take such actions as may be necessary to inform fully each employee that performs duties subject to the Act of the requirements of the EFA Act, and to establish and maintain procedures reasonably designed to assure and monitor employee compliance with such requirements.
2. This paragraph requires a bank to establish procedures to ensure compliance with these requirements and provide these procedures to the employees responsible for carrying them out.
G. 229.19(g) Effect of Merger Transaction
1. After banks merge, there is often a period of adjustment before their operations are consolidated. This paragraph accommodates this adjustment period by allowing merged banks to be treated as separate banks for purposes of this subpart for a period of up to one year after consummation of the merger transaction, except that a customer of any bank that is a party to the transaction that has an established account with that bank may not be treated as a new account holder for any other party to the transaction for purposes of the new account exception of § 229.13(a), and a deposit in any branch of the merged bank is considered deposited in the bank for purposes of the availability schedules in accordance with § 229.19(a).
2. This rule affects the status of the combined entity in several areas. For example, this rule would affect when an ATM is a proprietary ATM (§ 229.2(aa) and § 229.12(b)) and when a check is considered drawn on a branch of the depositary bank (§ 229.10(c)(1)(vi)).
3. Merger transaction is defined in § 229.2(t).
XIV. Section 229.20 Relation to State Law
A. 229.20(a) In General
1. Several states have enacted laws that govern when banks in those states must make funds available to their customers. The EFA Act provides that any state law in effect on September 1, 1989, that provides that funds be made available in a shorter period of time than provided in this regulation, will supersede the time periods in the EFA Act and the regulation. The Conference Report on the EFA Act clarifies this provision by stating that any state law enacted on or before September 1, 1989, may supersede federal law to the extent that the law relates to the time funds must be made available for withdrawal. H.R. Rep. No. 261, 100th Cong. 1st Sess. at 182 (1987).
2. Thus, if a state had wished to adopt a law governing funds availability, it had to have made that law effective on or before September 1, 1989. Laws adopted after that date do not supersede federal law, even if they provide for shorter availability periods than are provided under federal law. If a state that had a law governing funds availability in effect before September 1, 1989, amended its law after that date, the amendment would not supersede federal law, but an amendment deleting a state requirement would be effective.
3. If a state provides for a shorter hold for a certain category of checks than is provided for under federal law, that state requirement will supersede the federal provision. For example, most state laws base some hold periods on whether the check being deposited is drawn on an in-state or out-of-state bank. If a state contains more than one check processing region, the state's hold period for in-state checks may be shorter than the federal maximum hold period for nonlocal checks. Thus, the state schedule would supersede the federal schedule to the extent that it applies to in-state, nonlocal checks.
4. The EFA Act also provides that any state law that provides for availability in a shorter period of time than required by federal law is applicable to all federally insured institutions in that state, including federally chartered institutions. If a state law provides shorter availability only for deposits in accounts in certain categories of banks, such as commercial banks, the superseding state law continues to apply only to those categories of banks, rather than to all federally insured banks in the state.
B. 229.20(b) Preemption of Inconsistent Law
1. This paragraph reflects the statutory provision that other provisions of state law that are inconsistent with federal law are preempted. Preemption does not require a determination by the Board to be effective.
C. 229.20(c) Standards for Preemption
1. This section describes the standards the Board uses in making determinations on whether federal law will preempt state laws governing funds availability. A provision of state law is considered inconsistent with federal law if it permits a depositary bank to make funds available to a customer in a longer period of time than the maximum period permitted by the EFA Act and this regulation. For example, a state law that permits a hold of four business days or longer for local checks permits a hold that is longer than that permitted under the EFA Act and this regulation, and therefore is inconsistent and preempted. State availability schedules that provide for availability in a shorter period of time than required under Regulation CC supersede the federal schedule.
2. Under a state law, some categories of deposits could be available for withdrawal sooner or later than the time required by this subpart, depending on the composition of the deposit. For example, the Act and this regulation (§ 229.10(c)(1)(vii)) require next-day availability for the first $100 of the aggregate deposit of local or nonlocal checks on any day, and a state law could require next-day availability for any check of $100 or less that is deposited. Under this Act and this regulation, if either one $150 check or three $50 checks are deposited on a given day, $100 must be made available for withdrawal on the next business day, and $50 must be made available in accordance with the local or nonlocal schedule. Under the state law, however, the two deposits would be subject to different availability rules. In the first case, none of the proceeds of the deposit would be subject to next-day availability; in the second case, the entire proceeds of the deposit would be subject to next-day availability. In this example, because the state law would, in some situations, permit a hold longer than the maximum permitted by the EFA Act, this provision of state law is inconsistent and preempted in its entirety.
3. In addition to the differences between state and federal availability schedules, a number of state laws contain exceptions to the state availability schedules that are different from those provided under the EFA Act and this regulation. The state exceptions continue to apply only in those cases where the state schedule is shorter than or equal to the federal schedule, and then only up to the limit permitted by the Regulation CC schedule. Where a deposit is subject to a state exception under a state schedule that is not preempted by Regulation CC and is also subject to a federal exception, the hold on the deposit cannot exceed the hold permissible under the federal exception in accordance with Regulation CC. In such cases, only one exception notice is required, in accordance with § 229.13(g). This notice need only include the applicable federal exception as the reason the exception was invoked. For those categories of checks for which the state schedule is preempted by the federal schedule, only the federal exceptions may be used.
4. State laws that provide maximum availability periods for categories of deposits that are not covered by the EFA Act would not be preempted. Thus, state funds availability laws that apply to funds in time and savings deposits are not affected by the EFA Act or this regulation. In addition, the availability schedules of several states apply to "items" deposited to an account. The term items may encompass deposits, such as nonnegotiable instruments, that are not subject to the Regulation CC availability schedules. Deposits that are not covered by Regulation CC continue to be subject to the state availability schedules. State laws that provide maximum availability periods for categories of institutions that are not covered by the EFA Act also would not be preempted. For example, a state law that governs money market mutual funds would not be affected by the EFA Act or this regulation.
5. Generally, state rules governing the disclosure or notice of availability policies applicable to accounts also are preempted, if they are different from the federal rules. Nevertheless, a state law requiring disclosure of funds availability policies that apply to deposits other than "accounts," such as savings or time deposits, are not inconsistent with the EFA Act and this subpart. Banks in these states would have to follow the state disclosure rules for these deposits.
D. 229.20(d) Preemption Determinations
1. The Board may issue preemption determinations upon the request of an interested party in a state. The determinations will relate only to the provisions of subparts A and B; generally the Board will not issue individual preemption determinations regarding the relation of state U.C.C. provisions to the requirements of subpart C.
E. 229.20(e) Procedures for Preemption Determinations
1. This provision sets forth the information that must be included in a request by an interested party for a preemption determination by the Board.
XV. Section 229.21 Civil Liability
A. 229.21(a) Civil Liability
1. This paragraph sets forth the statutory penalties for failure to comply with the requirements of this subpart. These penalties apply to provisions of state law that supersede provisions of this regulation, such as requirements that funds deposited in accounts at banks be made available more promptly than required by this regulation, but they do not apply to other provisions of state law. (See Commentary to § 229.20.)
B. 229.21(b) Class Action Awards
1. This paragraph sets forth the provision in the Act concerning the factors that should be considered by the court in establishing the amount of a class action award.
C. 229.21(c) Bona Fide Errors
1. A bank is shielded from liability under this section for a violation of a requirement of this subpart if it can demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the violation resulted from a bona fide error and that it maintains procedures designed to avoid such errors. For example, a bank may make a bona fide error if it fails to give next-day availability on a check drawn on the Treasury because the bank's computer system malfunctions in a way that prevents the bank from updating its customer's account; or if it fails to identify whether a payable-through check is a local or nonlocal check despite procedures designed to make this determination accurately.
D. 229.21(d) Jurisdiction
1. The EFA Act confers subject matter jurisdiction on courts of competent jurisdiction and provides a time limit for civil actions for violations of this subpart.
E. 229.21(e) Reliance on Board Rulings
1. This provision shields banks from civil liability if they act in good faith in reliance on any rule, regulation, model form, notice, or clause (if the disclosure actually corresponds to the bank's availability policy), or interpretation of the Board, even if it were subsequently determined to be invalid. Banks may rely on this Commentary, which is issued as an official Board interpretation, as well as on the regulation itself.
F. 229.21(f) Exclusions
1. This provision clarifies that liability under this section does not apply to violations of the requirements of subpart C of this regulation, or to actions for wrongful dishonor of a check by a paying bank's customer.
G. 229.21(g) Record Retention
1. Banks must keep records to show compliance with the requirements of this subpart for at least two years. This record retention period is extended in the case of civil actions and enforcement proceedings. Generally, a bank is not required to retain records showing that it actually has given disclosures or notices required by this subpart to each customer, but it must retain evidence demonstrating that its procedures reasonably ensure the customers' receipt of the required disclosures and notices. A bank must, however, retain a copy of each notice provided pursuant to its use of the reasonable cause exception under § 229.13(g) as well as a brief description of the facts giving rise to the availability of that exception.
XVI. Section 229.30 Paying Bank's Responsibility for Return of Checks
A. 229.30(a) Return of Checks
1. This section requires a paying bank (which, for purposes of subpart C, may include a payable-through and payable-at bank; see § 229.2(z)) that determines not to pay a check to return the check expeditiously. Generally, a check is returned expeditiously if the return process is as fast as the forward collection process. This paragraph provides two standards for expeditious return, the "two-day/four-day" test, and the "forward collection" test.
2. Under the "two-day/four-day" test, if a check is returned such that it would normally be received by the depositary bank two business days after presentment where both the paying and depositary banks are located in the same check processing region or four business days after presentment where the paying and depositary banks are not located in the same check processing region, the check is considered returned expeditiously. In certain limited cases, however, these times are shorter than the time it would normally take a forward collection check deposited in the paying bank and payable by the depositary bank to be collected. Therefore, the Board has included a "forward collection" test, whereby a check is nonetheless considered to be returned expeditiously if the paying bank uses transportation methods and banks for return comparable to those used for forward collection checks, even if the check is not received by the depositary banks within the two-day or four-day period.
3. Two-day/four-day test.
a. Under the first test, a paying bank must return the check so that the check would normally be received by the depositary bank within specified times, depending on whether or not the paying and depositary banks are located in the same check processing region.
b. Where both banks are located in the same check processing region, a check is returned expeditiously if it is returned to the depositary bank by 4:00 p.m. (local time of the depositary bank) of the second business day after the banking day on which the check was presented to the paying bank. For example, a check presented on Monday to a paying bank must be returned to a depositary bank located in the same check processing region by 4 p.m. on Wednesday. For a paying bank that is located in a different check processing region than the depositary bank, the deadline to complete return is 4 p.m. (local time of the depositary bank) of the fourth business day after the banking day on which the check was presented to the paying bank. For example, a check presented to such a paying bank on Monday must be returned to the depositary bank by 4:00 p.m. on Friday.
c. This two-day/four-day test does not necessarily require actual receipt of the check by the depositary bank within these times. Rather, the paying bank must send the check so that the check would normally be received by the depositary bank within the specified time. Thus, the paying bank is not responsible for unforeseeable delays in the return of the check, such as transportation delays.
d. Often, returned checks will be delivered to the depositary bank together with forward collection checks. Where the last day on which a check could be delivered to a depositary bank under this two-day/four-day test is not a banking day for the depositary bank, a returning bank might not schedule delivery of forward collection checks to the depositary bank on that day. Further, the depositary bank may not process checks on that day. Consequently, if the last day of the time limit is not a banking day for the depositary bank, the check may be delivered to the depositary bank before the close of the depositary bank's next banking day and the return will still be considered expeditious. Ordinarily, this extension of time will allow the returned checks to be delivered with the next shipment of forward collection checks destined for the depositary bank.
e. The times specified in this two-day/four-day test are based on estimated forward collection times, but take into account the particular difficulties that may be encountered in handling returned checks. It is anticipated that the normal process for forward collection of a check coupled with these return requirements will frequently result in the return of checks before the proceeds of nonlocal checks, other than those covered by § 229.10(c), must be made available for withdrawal.
f. Under this two-day/four-day test, no particular means of returning checks is required, thus providing flexibility to paying banks in selecting means of return. The Board anticipates that paying banks will often use returning banks (see § 229.31) as their agents to return checks to depositary banks. A paying bank may rely on the availability schedule of the returning bank it uses in determining whether the returned check would "normally" be returned within the required time under this two-day/four-day test, unless the paying bank has reason to believe that these schedules do not reflect the actual time for return of a check.
4. Forward collection test.
a. Under the second, "forward collection," test, a paying bank returns a check expeditiously if it returns a check by means as swift as the means similarly situated banks would use for the forward collection of a check drawn on the depositary bank.
b. Generally, the paying bank would satisfy the "forward collection" test if it uses a transportation method and collection path for return comparable to that used for forward collection, provided that the returning bank selected to process the return agrees to handle the returned check under the standards for expeditious return for returning banks under § 229.31(a). This test allows many paying banks a simple means of expeditious return of checks and takes into account the longer time for return that will be required by banks that do not have ready access to direct courier transportation.
c. The paying bank's normal method of sending a check for forward collection would not be expeditious, however, if it is materially slower than that of other banks of similar size and with similar check handling activity in its community.
d. Under the "forward collection" test, a paying bank must handle, route, and transport a returned check in a manner designed to be at least as fast as a similarly situated bank would collect a forward collection check (1) of similar amount, (2) drawn on the depositary bank, and (3) received for deposit by a branch of the paying bank or a similarly situated bank by noon on the banking day following the banking day of presentment of the returned check.
e. This test refers to similarly situated banks to indicate a general community standard. In the case of a paying bank (other than a Federal Reserve Bank), a similarly situated bank is a bank of similar asset size, in the same community, and with similar check handling activity as the paying bank. (See § 229.2(ee).) A paying bank has similar check handling activity to other banks that handle similar volumes of checks for collection.
f. Under the forward collection test, banks that use means of handling returned checks that are less efficient than the means used by similarly situated banks must improve their procedures. On the other hand, a bank with highly efficient means of collecting checks drawn on a particular bank, such as a direct presentment of checks to a bank in a remote community, is not required to use that means for returned checks, i.e. direct return, if similarly situated banks do not present checks directly to that depositary bank.
a. If a check is presented to a paying bank on Monday and the depositary bank and the paying bank are participants in the same clearinghouse, the paying bank should arrange to have the returned check received by the depositary bank by Wednesday. This would be the same day the paying bank would deliver a forward collection check to the depositary bank if the paying bank received the deposit by noon on Tuesday.
b. i. If a check is presented to a paying bank on Monday and the paying bank would normally collect checks drawn on the depositary bank by sending them to a correspondent or a Federal Reserve bank by courier, the paying bank could send the returned check to its correspondent or Federal Reserve bank, provided that the correspondent has agreed to handle returned checks expeditiously under § 229.31(a). (All Federal Reserve banks agree to handle returned checks expeditiously.)
ii. The paying bank must deliver the returned check to the correspondent or Federal Reserve bank by the correspondent's or Federal Reserve bank's appropriate cut-off hour. The appropriate cut-off hour is the cut-off hour for returned checks that corresponds to the cut-off hour for forward collection checks drawn on the depositary bank that would normally be used by the paying bank or a similarly situated bank. A returned check cut-off hour corresponds to a forward collection cut-off hour if it provides for the same or faster availability for checks destined for the same depositary banks.
iii. In this example, delivery to the correspondent or a Federal Reserve bank by the appropriate cut-off hour satisfies the paying bank's duty, even if use of the correspondent or Federal Reserve bank is not the most expeditious means of returning the check. Thus, a paying bank may send a local returned check to a correspondent instead of a Federal Reserve bank, even if the correspondent then sends the returned check to a Federal Reserve bank the following day as a qualified returned check. Where the paying bank delivers forward collection checks by courier to the correspondent or the Federal Reserve bank, mailing returned checks to the correspondent or Federal Reserve bank would not satisfy the forward collection test.
iv. If a paying bank ordinarily mails its forward collection checks to its correspondent or Federal Reserve bank in order to avoid the costs of a courier delivery, but similarly situated banks use a courier to deliver forward collection checks to their correspondent or Federal Reserve bank, the paying bank must send its returned checks by courier to meet the forward collection test.
c. If a paying bank normally sends its forward collection checks directly to the depositary bank, which is located in another community, but similarly situated banks send forward collection checks drawn on the depositary bank to a correspondent or a Federal Reserve bank, the paying bank would not have to send returned checks directly to the depositary bank, but could send them to a correspondent or a Federal Reserve bank.
d. The dollar amount of the returned check has a bearing on how it must be returned. If the paying bank and similarly situated banks present large-dollar checks drawn on the depositary bank directly to the depositary bank, but use a Federal Reserve bank or a correspondent to collect small-dollar checks, generally the paying bank would be required to send its large-dollar returns directly to the depositary bank (or through a returning bank, if the checks are returned as quickly), but could use a Federal Reserve bank or a correspondent for its small-dollar returns.
6. Choice of returning bank. In meeting the requirements of the forward collection test, the paying bank is responsible for its own actions, but not for those of the depositary bank or returning banks. (This is analogous to the responsibility of collecting banks under U.C.C. 4--202(c).) For example, if the paying bank starts the return of the check in a timely manner but return is delayed by a returning bank (including delay to create a qualified returned check), generally the paying bank has met its requirements. (See § 229.38.) If, however, the paying bank selects a returning bank that the paying bank should know is not capable of meeting its return requirements, the paying bank will not have met its obligation of exercising ordinary care in selecting intermediaries to return the check. The paying bank is free to use a method of return, other than its method of forward collection, as long as the alternate method results in delivery of the returned check to the depositary bank as quickly as the forward collection of a check drawn on the depositary bank or, where the returning bank takes a day to create a qualified returned check under § 229.31(a), one day later than the forward collection time. If a paying bank returns a check on its banking day of receipt without settling for the check, as permitted under U.C.C. 4--302(a), and receives settlement for the returned check from a returning bank, it must promptly pay the amount of the check to the collecting bank from which it received the check.
7. Qualified returned checks. Although paying banks may wish to prepare qualified returned checks because they will be handled at a lower cost by returning banks, the one business day extension provided to returning banks is not available to paying banks because of the longer time that a paying bank has to dispatch the check. Normally, paying banks will be able to convert a check to a qualified returned check at any time after the determination is made to return the check until late in the day following presentment, while a returning bank may receive returned checks late on one day and be expected to dispatch them early the next morning. A check that is converted to a qualified returned check must be encoded in accordance with ANS X9.13 for original checks or ANS X9.100--140 for substitute checks.
8. Routing of returned checks.
a. In effect, under either test, the paying bank acts as an agent or subagent of the depositary bank in selecting a means of return. Under § 229.30(a), a paying bank is authorized to route the returned check in a variety of ways:
i. It may send the returned check directly to the depositary bank by courier or other means of delivery, bypassing returning banks; or
ii. It may send the returned check to any returning bank agreeing to handle the returned check for expeditious return to the depositary bank under § 229.31(a), regardless of whether or not the returning bank handled the check for forward collection.
b. If the paying bank elects to return the check directly to the depositary bank, it is not necessarily required to return the check to the branch of first deposit. The check may be returned to the depositary bank at any location permitted under § 229.32(a).
9. Midnight deadline.
a. Except for the extension permitted by § 229.30(c), discussed below, this section does not relieve a paying bank from the requirement for timely return (i.e., midnight deadline) under U.C.C. 4--301 and 4--302, which continue to apply. Under U.C.C. 4--302, a paying bank is "accountable" for the amount of a demand item, other than a documentary draft, if it does not pay or return the item or send notice of dishonor by its midnight deadline. Under U.C.C. 3--418(c) and 4--215(a), late return constitutes payment and would be final in favor of a holder in due course or a person who has in good faith changed his position in reliance on the payment. Thus, retaining this requirement gives the paying bank an additional incentive to make a prompt return.
b. The expeditious return requirement applies to a paying bank that determines not to pay a check. This requirement applies to a payable-through or a payable-at bank that is defined as a paying bank (see § 229.2(z)) and that returns a check. This requirement begins when the payable-through or payable-at bank receives the check during forward collection, not when the payor returns the check to the payable-through or payable-at bank. Nevertheless, a check sent for payment or collection to a payable-through or payable-at bank is not considered to be drawn on that bank for purposes of the midnight deadline provision of U.C.C. 4--301. (See discussion of § 229.36(a).)
c. The liability section of this subpart (§ 229.38) provides that a paying bank is not subject to both "accountability" for missing the midnight deadline under the U.C.C. and liability for missing the timeliness requirements of this regulation. Also, a paying bank is not responsible for failure to make expeditious return to a party that has breached a presentment warranty under U.C.C. 4--208, notwithstanding that the paying bank has returned the check. (See Commentary to § 229.33(a).)
10. U.C.C. provisions affected. This paragraph directly affects the following provisions of the U.C.C., and may affect other sections or provisions:
a. Section 4--301(d), in that instead of returning a check through a clearinghouse or to the presenting bank, a paying bank may send a returned check to the depositary bank or to a returning bank.
b. Section 4--301(a), in that time limits specified in that section may be affected by the additional requirement to make an expeditious return and in that settlement for returned checks is made under § 229.31(c), not by revocation of settlement.
B. 229.30(b) Unidentifiable Depositary Bank
1. In some cases, a paying bank will be unable to identify the depositary bank through the use of ordinary care and good faith. The Board expects that these cases will be unusual as skilled return clerks will readily identify the depositary bank from the depositary bank indorsement required under § 229.35 and appendix D. In cases where the paying bank is unable to identify the depositary bank, the paying bank may, in accordance with § 229.30(a), send the returned check to a returning bank that agrees to handle the returned check for expeditious return to the depositary bank under § 229.31(a). The returning bank may be better able to identify the depositary bank.
2. In the alternative, the paying bank may send the check back up the path used for forward collection of the check. The presenting bank and prior collecting banks normally will be able to trace the collection path of the check through the use of their internal records in conjunction with the indorsements on the returned check. In these limited cases, the paying bank may send such a returned check to any bank that handled the check for forward collection, even if that bank does not agree to handle the returned check for expeditious return to the depositary bank under § 229.31(a). A paying bank returning a check under this paragraph to a bank that has not agreed to handle the check expeditiously must advise that bank that it is unable to identify the depositary bank. This advice must be conspicuous, such as a stamp on each check for which the depositary bank is unknown if such checks are commingled with other returned checks, or, if such checks are sent in a separate cash letter, by one notice on the cash letter. This information will warn the bank that this check will require special research and handling in accordance with § 229.31(b). The returned check may not be prepared for automated return. The return of a check to a bank that handled the check for forward collection is consistent with § 229.35(b), which requires a bank handling a check to take up the check it is has not been paid.
3. The sending of a check to a bank that handled the check for forward collection under this paragraph is not subject to the requirements for expeditious return by the paying bank. Often, the paying bank will not have courier or other expeditious means of transportation to the collecting or presenting bank. Although the lack of a requirement of expeditious return will create risks for the depositary bank, in many cases the inability to identify the depositary bank will be due to the depositary bank's, or a collecting bank's, failure to use the indorsement required by § 229.35(a) and appendix D. If the depositary bank failed to use the proper indorsement, it should bear the risks of less than expeditious return. Similarly, where the inability to identify the depositary bank is due to indorsements or other information placed on the back of the check by the depositary bank's customer or other prior indorser, the depositary bank should bear the risk that it cannot charge a returned check back to that customer. Where the inability to identify the depositary bank is due to subsequent indorsements of collecting banks, these collecting banks may be liable for a loss incurred by the depositary bank due to less than expeditious return of a check; those banks therefore have an incentive to return checks sent to them under this paragraph quickly.
4. This paragraph does not relieve a paying bank from the liability for the lack of expeditious return in cases where the paying bank is itself responsible for the inability to identify the depositary bank, such as when the paying bank's customer has used a check with printing or other material on the back in the area reserved for the depositary bank's indorsement, making the indorsement unreadable. (See § 229.38(d).)
5. A paying bank's return under this paragraph is also subject to its midnight deadline under U.C.C. 4--301, Regulation J (if the check is returned through a Federal Reserve bank), and the exception provided in § 229.30(c). A paying bank also may send a check to a prior collecting bank to make a claim against that bank under § 229.35(b) where the depositary bank is insolvent or in other cases as provided in § 229.35(b). Finally, a paying bank may make a claim against a prior collecting bank based on a breach of warranty under U.C.C. 4--208.
3This section implements section 606 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 4005). The Act keys the requirement to pay interest to the time the depositary bank receives provisional credit for a check. Provisional credit is a term used in the U.C.C. that is derived from the Code's concept of provisional settlement. (See U.C.C. 4--214 and 4--215.) Provisional credit is credit that is subject to charge-back if the check is returned unpaid; once the check is finally paid, the right to charge back expires and the provisional credit becomes final. Under subpart C, a paying bank no longer has an automatic right to charge back credits given in settlement of a check, and the concept of provisional settlement is no longer useful and has been eliminated by the regulation. Accordingly, this section uses the term credit rather than provisional credit, and this section applies regardless of whether a credit would be provisional or final under the U.C.C. Credit does not include a bookkeeping entry (sometimes referred to as deferred credit) that does not represent funds actually available for the bank's use. Go back to Text