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6500 - Consumer Protection


C.  229.30(c) Extension of Deadline

1.  This paragraph permits extension of the deadlines for returning a check for which the paying bank previously has settled (generally midnight of the banking day following the banking day on which the check is received by the paying bank) and for returning a check without settling for it (generally midnight of the banking day on which the check is received by the paying bank, or such other time provided by § 210.9 of Regulation J (12 CFR part 210) or § 229.36(f)(2) of this part), but not of the duty of expeditious return, in two circumstances:

a.  A paying bank may have a courier that leaves after midnight (or after any other applicable deadline) to deliver its forward-collection checks. This paragraph removes the constraint of the midnight deadline for returned checks if the returned check reaches the receiving bank on or before the receiving bank's next banking day following the otherwise applicable deadline by the earlier of the close of that banking day or a cutoff hour of 2 p.m. or later set by the receiving bank under U.C.C. 4--108. The extension also applies if the check reaches the bank to which it is sent later than the time described in the previous sentence if highly expeditious means of transportation are used. For example, a West Coast paying bank may use this further extension to ship a returned check by air courier directly to an East Coast returning bank even if the check arrives after the returning bank's cutoff hour. This paragraph applies to the extension of all midnight deadlines except Saturday midnight deadlines (see paragraph XVI.C1.b of this appendix).

b.  A paying bank may observe a banking day, as defined in the applicable U.C.C., on a Saturday, which is not a business day and therefore not a banking day under Regulation CC. In such a case, the U.C.C. deadline for returning checks received and settled for on Friday, or for returning checks received on Saturday without settling for them, might require the bank to return the checks by midnight Saturday. However, the bank may not have couriers leaving on Saturday to carry returned checks, and even if it did, the returning or depositary bank to which the returned checks were sent might not be open until Sunday night or Monday morning to receive and process the checks. This paragraph extends the midnight deadline if the returned checks reach the returning bank by a cut-off hour (usually on Sunday night or Monday morning) that permits processing during its next processing cycle or reach the depositary bank by the cut-off hour on its next banking day following the Saturday midnight deadline. This paragraph applies exclusively to the extension of Saturday midnight deadlines.

2.  The time limits that are extended in each case are the paying bank's midnight deadline for returning a check for which it has already settled and the paying bank's deadline for returning a check without settling for it in U.C.C. 4--301 and 4--302, §§ 210.9 and 210.12 of Regulation J (12 CFR 210.9 and 210.12), and § 229.36(f)(2) of this part. As these extensions are designed to speed (§ 229.30(c)(1)), or at least not slow (§ 229.30(c)(2)), the overall return of checks, no modification or extension of the expeditious return requirements in § 229.30(a) is required.

3.  The paying bank satisfies its midnight or other return deadline by dispatching returned checks to another bank by courier, including a courier under contract with the paying bank, prior to expiration of the deadline.

4.  This paragraph directly affects U.C.C. 4--301 and 4--302 and §§ 210.9 and 210.12 of Regulation J (12 CFR 210.9 and 210.12) to the extent that this paragraph applies by its terms, and may affect other provisions.

D.  229.30(d) Identification of Returned Check

1.  The reason for the return must be clearly indicated. A check is identified as a returned check if the front of that check indicates the reason for return, even though it does not specifically state that the check is a returned check. A reason such as "Refer to Maker" is permissible in appropriate cases. If the returned check is a substitute check, the reason for return must be placed within the image of the original check that appears on the front of the substitute check so that the information is retained on any subsequent substitute check. If the paying bank places the returned check in a carrier envelope, the carrier envelope should indicate that it is a returned check but need not repeat the reason for return stated on the check if it in fact appears on the check.

E.  229.30(e) Depositary Bank Without Accounts

1.  Subpart B of this regulation applies only to "checks" deposited in transaction-type "accounts." Thus, a depositary bank with only time or savings accounts need not comply with the availability requirements of subpart B. Collecting banks will not have couriers delivering checks to these banks as paying banks, because no checks are drawn on them. Consequently, the costs of using a courier or other expedited means to deliver returned checks directly to such a depositary bank may not be justified. Thus, the expedited return requirement of § 229.30(a) and the notice of nonpayment requirement of § 229.33 do not apply to checks being returned to banks that do not hold accounts. The paying bank's midnight deadline in U.C.C. 4--301 and 4--302 and § 210.12 of Regulation J (12 CFR 210.12) would continue to apply to these checks. Returning banks also would be required to act on such checks within their midnight deadline. Further, in order to avoid complicating the process of returning checks generally, banks without accounts are required to use the standard indorsement, and their checks are returned by returning banks and paid for by the depositary bank under the same rules as checks deposited in other banks, with the exception of the expeditious return and notice of nonpayment requirements of §§ 229.30(a), 229.31(a), and 229.33.

2.  The expeditious return requirements also apply to a check deposited in a bank that is not a depository institution. Federal Reserve banks, Federal Home Loan banks, private bankers, and possibly certain industrial banks are not depository institutions within the meaning of the EFA Act, and therefore are not subject to the expedited availability and disclosure requirements of subpart B. These banks do, however, maintain accounts as defined in § 229.2(a), and a paying bank returning a check to one of these banks would be required to return the check to the depositary bank, in accordance with the requirements of this section.

F.  229.30(f) Notice in Lieu of Return

1.  A check that is lost or otherwise unavailable for return may be returned by sending a legible copy of both sides of the check or, if such a copy is not available to the paying bank, a written notice of nonpayment containing the information specified in § 229.33(b). The copy or written notice must clearly indicate it is a notice in lieu of return and must be handled in the same manner as other returned checks. Notice by telephone, telegraph, or other electronic transmission, other than a legible facsimile or similar image transmission of both sides of the check, does not satisfy the requirements for a notice in lieu of return. The requirement for a writing and the indication that the notice is a substitute for the returned check is necessary so that the returning and depositary banks are informed that the notice carries value. Notice in lieu of return is permitted only when a bank does not have and cannot obtain possession of the check or must retain possession of the check for protest. A check is not unavailable for return if it is merely difficult to retrieve from a filing system or from storage by a keeper of checks in a truncation system. A notice in lieu of return may be used by a bank handling a returned check that has been lost or destroyed, including when the original returned check has been charged back as lost or destroyed as provided in § 229.35(b). A bank using a notice in lieu of return gives a warranty under § 229.34(a)(4) that the original check has not been and will not be returned.

2.  The requirement of this paragraph supersedes the requirement of U.C.C. 4--301(a) as to the form and information required of a notice of dishonor or nonpayment. Reference in the regulation and this commentary to a returned check includes a notice in lieu of return unless the context indicates otherwise.

3.  The notice in lieu of return is subject to the provisions of § 229.30 and is treated like a returned check for settlement purposes. If the original check is over $2,500, the notice of nonpayment under § 229.33 is still required, but may be satisfied by the notice in lieu of return if the notice in lieu meets the time and information requirements of § 229.33.

4.  If not all of the information required by § 229.33(b) is available, the paying bank may make a claim against any prior bank handling the check as provided in § 229.35(b).

G.  229.30(g) Reliance on Routing Number

1.  Although § 229.35 and appendix D require that the depositary bank indorsement contain its nine-digit routing number, it is possible that a returned check will bear the routing number of the depositary bank in fractional, nine-digit, or other form. This paragraph permits a paying bank to rely on the routing number of the depositary bank as it appears on the check (in the depositary bank's indorsement) when it is received by the paying bank.

2.  If there are inconsistent routing numbers, the paying bank may rely on any routing number designating the depositary bank. The paying bank is not required to resolve the inconsistency prior to processing the check. The paying bank remains subject to the requirement to act in good faith and use ordinary care under § 229.38(a).

XVII. Section 229.31 Returning Bank's Responsibility for Return of Checks

A.  229.31(a) Return of Checks

1.  The standards for return of checks established by this section are similar to those for paying banks in § 229.30(a). This section requires a returning bank to return a returned check expeditiously if it agrees to handle the returned check for expeditious return under this paragraph. In effect, the returning bank is an agent or subagent of the paying bank and a subagent of the depositary bank for the purposes of returning the check.

2.  A returning bank agrees to handle a returned check for expeditious return to the depositary bank if it:

a.  Publishes or distributes availability schedules for the return of returned checks and accepts the returned check for return;

b.  Handles a returned check for return that it did not handle for forward collection; or

c.  Otherwise agrees to handle a returned check for expeditious return.

3.  Two-day/four-day test. As in the case of a paying bank, a returning bank's return of a returned check is expeditious if it meets either of two tests. Under the "two-day/four-day" test, the check must be returned so that it would normally be received by the depositary bank by 4:00 p.m. either two or four business days after the check was presented to the paying bank, depending on whether or not the paying bank is located in the same check processing region as the depositary bank. This is the same test as the two-day/four-day test applicable to paying banks. (See Commentary to § 229.30(a).) While a returning bank will not have first hand knowledge of the day on which a check was presented to the paying bank, returning banks may, by agreement, allocate with paying banks liability for late return based on the delays caused by each. In effect, the two-day/four-day test protects all paying and returning banks that return checks from claims that they failed to return a check expeditiously, where the check is returned within the specified time following presentment to the paying bank, or a later time as would result from unforeseen delays.

4.  Forward collection test.

a.  The "forward collection" test is similar to the forward collection test for paying banks. Under this test, a returning bank must handle a returned check in the same manner that a similarly situated collecting bank would handle a check of similar size drawn on the depositary bank for forward collection. A similarly situated bank is a bank (other than a Federal Reserve bank) that is of similar asset size and check handling activity in the same community. A bank has similar check handling activity if it handles a similar volume of checks for forward collection as the forward collection volume of the returning bank.

b.  Under the forward collection test, a returning bank must accept returned checks, including both qualified and other returned checks ("raw returns"), at approximately the same times and process them according to the same general schedules as checks handled for forward collection. Thus, a returning bank generally must process even raw returns on an overnight basis, unless its time limit is extended by one day to convert a raw return to a qualified returned check.

5.  Cut-off hours. A returning bank may establish earlier cut-off hours for receipt of returned checks than for receipt of forward collection checks, but the cut-off hour for returned checks may not be earlier than 2:00 p.m. The returning bank also may set different sorting requirements for returned checks than those applicable to other checks. Thus, a returning bank may allow itself more processing time for returns than for forward collection checks. All returned checks received by a cut-off hour for returned checks must be processed and dispatched by the returning bank by the time that it would dispatch forward collection checks received at a corresponding forward collection cut-off hour that provides for the same or faster availability for checks destined for the same depositary banks.

6.  Examples.

a.  If a returning bank receives a returned check by its cut-off hour for returned checks on Monday and the depositary bank and the returning bank are participants in the same clearinghouse, the returning bank should arrange to have the returned check received by the depositary bank by Tuesday. This would be the same day that it would deliver a forward collection check drawn on the depositary bank and received by the returning bank at a corresponding forward collection cut-off hour on Monday.

b. i.  If a returning bank receives a returned check, and the returning bank normally would collect a forward collection check drawn on the depositary bank by sending the forward collection check to a correspondent or a Federal Reserve bank by courier, the returning bank could send the returned check in the same manner if the correspondent has agreed to handle returned checks expeditiously under § 229.31(a). The returning bank would have to deliver the check by the correspondent's or Federal Reserve bank's cut-off hour for returned checks that corresponds to its cut-off hour for forward collection checks drawn on the depositary bank. A returning bank may take a day to convert a check to a qualified returned check. Where the forward collection checks are delivered by courier, mailing the returned checks would not meet the duty established by this section for returning banks.

ii.  A returning bank must return a check to the depositary bank by courier or other means as fast as a courier, if similarly situated returning banks use couriers to deliver their forward collection checks to the depositary bank.

iii.  For some depositary banks, no community practice exists as to delivery of checks. For example, a credit union whose customers use payable-through drafts normally does not have checks presented to it because the drafts are normally sent to the payable-through bank for collection. In these circumstances, the community standard is established by taking into account the dollar volume of the checks being sent to the depositary bank and the location of the depositary bank, and determining whether similarly situated banks normally would deliver forward collection checks to the depositary bank, taking into account the particular risks associated with returned checks. Where the community standard does not require courier delivery, other means of delivery, including mail, are acceptable.

7.  Qualified returned checks.

a.  The expeditious return requirement for a returning bank in this regulation is more stringent in many cases than the duty of a collecting bank to exercise ordinary care under U.C.C. 4--202 in returning a check. A returning bank is under a duty to act as expeditiously in returning a check as it would in the forward collection of a check. Notwithstanding its duty of expeditious return, its midnight deadline under U.C.C. 4--202 and § 210.12(a) of Regulation J (12 CFR 210.12(a)), under the forward collection test, a returning bank may take an extra day to qualify a returned check. A qualified returned check will be handled by subsequent returning banks more efficiently than a raw return. This paragraph gives a returning bank an extra business day beyond the time that would otherwise be required to return the returned check to convert a returned check to a qualified returned check. The qualified returned check must include the routing number of the depositary bank, the amount of the check, and a return identifier encoded on the check in magnetic ink. 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.

b.  If the returning bank is sending the returned check directly to the depositary bank, this extra day is not available because preparing a qualified returned check will not expedite handling by other banks. If the returning bank makes an encoding error in creating a qualified returned check, it may be liable under § 229.38 for losses caused by any negligence or under § 229.34(c)(3) for breach of an encoding warranty. The returning bank would not lose the one-day extension available to it for creating a qualified returned check because of an encoding error.

8.  Routing of returned check.

a.  Under § 229.31(a), the returning 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 expeditious means of delivery; 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 this section regardless of whether or not the returning bank handled the check for forward collection.

b.  If the returning bank elects to send the returned check directly to the depositary bank, it is not required to send the check to the branch of the depositary bank that first handled the check. The returned check may be sent to the depositary bank at any location permitted under § 229.32(a).

9.  Responsibilities of returning bank. In meeting the requirements of this section, the returning bank is responsible for its own actions, but not those of the paying bank, other returning banks, or the depositary bank. (See U.C.C. 4--202(c) regarding the responsibility of collecting banks.) For example, if the paying bank has delayed the start of the return process, but the returning bank acts in a timely manner, the returning bank may satisfy the requirements of this section even if the delayed return results in a loss to the depositary bank. (See § 229.38.) A returning bank must handle a notice in lieu of return as expeditiously as a returned check.

10.  U.C.C. sections affected. This paragraph directly affects the following provisions of the U.C.C., and may affect other sections or provisions:

a.  Section 4--202(b), in that time limits required by that section may be affected by the additional requirement to make an expeditious return.

b.  Section 4--214(a), in that settlement for returned checks is made under § 229.31(c) and not by charge-back of provisional credit, and in that the time limits may be affected by the additional requirement to make an expeditious return.

B.  229.31(b) Unidentifiable Depositary Bank

1.  This section is similar to § 229.30(b), but applies to returning banks instead of paying banks. In some cases a returning bank will be unable to identify the depositary bank with respect to a check. Returning banks agreeing to handle checks for return to depositary banks under § 229.31(a) are expected to be expert in identifying depositary bank indorsements. In the limited cases where the returning bank cannot identify the depositary bank, the returning bank may send the returned check to a returning bank that agrees to handle the returned check for expeditious return under § 229.31(a), or it may send the returned check to a bank that handled the check for forward collection, even if that bank does not agree to handle the returned check expeditiously under § 229.31(a).

2.  If the returning bank itself handled the check for forward collection, it may send the returned check to a collecting bank that was prior to it in the forward collection process, which will be better able to identify the depositary bank. If there are no prior collecting banks, the returning bank must research the collection of the check and identify the depositary bank. As in the case of paying banks under § 229.30(b), a returning bank's sending of a check to a bank that handled the check for forward collection under § 229.31(b) is not subject to the expeditious return requirements of § 229.31(a).

3.  The returning bank's return of a check under this paragraph is subject to the midnight deadline under U.C.C. 4--202(b). (See definition of returning bank in § 229.2(cc).)

4.  Where a returning bank receives a check that it does not agree to handle expeditiously under § 229.31(a), such as a check sent to it under § 229.30(b), but the returning bank is able to identify the depositary bank, the returning bank must thereafter return the check expeditiously to the depositary bank. The returning bank returns a check expeditiously under this paragraph if it returns the check by the same means it would use to return a check drawn on it to the depositary bank or by other reasonably prompt means.

5.  As in the case of a paying bank returning a check under § 229.30(b), a returning 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. The returned check may not be prepared for automated return.

C.  229.31(c) Settlement

1.  Under the U.C.C., a collecting bank receives settlement for a check when it is presented to the paying bank. The paying bank may recover the settlement when the paying bank returns the check to the presenting bank. Under this regulation, however, the paying bank may return the check directly to the depositary bank or through returning banks that did not handle the check for forward collection. On these more efficient return paths, the paying bank does not recover the settlement made to the presenting bank. Thus, this paragraph requires the returning bank to settle for a returned check (either with the paying bank or another returning bank) in the same way that it would settle for a similar check for forward collection. To achieve uniformity, this paragraph applies even if the returning bank handled the check for forward collection.

2.  Any returning bank, including one that handled the check for forward collection, may provide availability for returned checks pursuant to an availability schedule as it does for forward collection checks. These settlements by returning banks, as well as settlements between banks made during the forward collection of a check, are considered final when made subject to any deferment of availability. (See § 229.36(d) and Commentary to § 229.35(b).)

3.  A returning bank may vary the settlement method it uses by agreement with paying banks or other returning banks. Special rules apply in the case of insolvency of banks. (see § 229.39.) If payment cannot be obtained from a depositary or returning bank because of its insolvency or otherwise, recovery can be had by returning, paying, and collecting banks from prior banks on this basis of the liability of prior banks under § 229.35(b).

4.  This paragraph affects U.C.C. 4--214(a) in that a paying or collecting bank does not ordinarily have a right to charge back against the bank from which it received the returned check, although it is entitled to settlement if it returns the returned check to that bank, and may affect other sections or provisions. Under § 229.36(d), a bank collecting a check remains liable to prior collecting banks and the depositary bank's customer under the U.C.C.

D.  229.31(d) Charges

1.  This paragraph permits any returning bank, even one that handled the check for forward collection, to impose a fee on the paying bank or other returning bank for its service in handling a returned check. Where a claim is made under § 229.35(b), the bank on which the claim is made is not authorized by this paragraph to impose a charge for taking up a check. This paragraph preempts state laws to the extent that these laws prevent returning banks from charging fees for handling returned checks.

E.  229.31(e) Depositary Bank Without Accounts

1.  This paragraph is similar to § 229.30(e) and relieves a returning bank of its obligation to make expeditious return to a depositary bank that does not maintain any accounts. (See the Commentary to § 229.30(e).)

F.  229.31(f) Notice in Lieu of Return

1.  This paragraph is similar to § 229.30(f) and authorizes a returning bank to originate a notice in lieu of return if the returned check is unavailable for return. Notice in lieu of return is permitted only when a bank does not have and cannot obtain possession of the check or must retain possession of the check for protest. A check is not unavailable for return if it is merely difficult to retrieve from a filing system or from storage by a keeper of checks in a truncation system. (See the Commentary to § 229.30(f).)

G.  229.31(g) Reliance on Routing Number

1.  This paragraph is similar to § 229.30(g) and permits a returning bank to rely on routing numbers appearing on a returned check such as routing numbers in the depositary bank's indorsement or on qualified returned checks. (See the Commentary to § 229.30(g).)

XVIII. Section 229.32 Depositary Bank's Responsibility for Returned Checks

A.  229.32(a) Acceptance of Returned Checks

1.  This regulation seeks to encourage direct returns by paying and returning banks and may result in a number of banks sending checks to depositary banks with no preexisting arrangements as to where the returned checks should be delivered. This paragraph states where the depositary bank is required to accept returned checks and written notices of nonpayment under § 229.33. (These locations differ from locations at which a depositary bank must accept electronic notices.) It is derived from U.C.C. 3--111, which specifies that presentment for payment may be made at the place specified in the instrument or, if there is none, at the place of business of the party to pay. In the case of returned checks, the depositary bank does not print the check and can only specify the place of "payment" of the returned check in its indorsement.

2.  The paragraph specifies four locations at which the depositary bank must accept returned checks:

a.  The depositary bank must accept returned checks at any location at which it requests presentment of forward collection checks such as a processing center. A depositary bank does not request presentment of forward collection checks at a branch of the bank merely by paying checks presented over the counter.

b. i.  If the depositary bank indorsement states the name and address of the depositary bank, it must accept returned checks at the branch, head office, or other location, such as a processing center, indicated by the address. If the address is too general to identify a particular location, then the depositary bank must accept returned checks at any branch or head office consistent with the address. If, for example, the address is "New York, New York," each branch in New York City must accept returned checks.

ii.  If no address appears in the depositary bank's indorsement, the depositary bank must accept returned checks at any branch or head office associated with the depositary bank's routing number. The offices associated with the routing number of a bank are found in American Bankers Association Key to Routing Numbers, published by an agent of the American Bankers Association, which lists a city and state address for each routing number.

iii.  The depositary bank must accept returned checks at the address in its indorsement and at an address associated with its routing number in the indorsement if the written address in the indorsement and the address associated with the routing number in the indorsement are not in the same check processing region. Under §§ 229.30(g) and 229.31(g), a paying or returning bank may rely on the depositary bank's routing number in its indorsement in handling returned checks and is not required to send returned checks to an address in the depositary bank's indorsement that is not in the same check processing region as the address associated with the routing number in the indorsement.

iv.  If no routing number or address appears in its indorsement, the depositary bank must accept a returned check at any branch or head office of the bank. The indorsement requirement of § 229.35 and appendix D requires that the indorsement contain a routing number, a name, and a location. Consequently, this provision, as well as paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, only applies where the depositary bank has failed to comply with the indorsement requirement.

3.  For ease of processing, a depositary bank may require that returning or paying banks returning checks to it separate returned checks from forward collection checks being presented.

4.  Under § 229.33(d), a depositary bank receiving a returned check or notice of nonpayment must send notice to its customer by its midnight deadline or within a longer reasonable time.

B.  229.32(b) Payment

1.  As discussed in the commentary to § 229.31(c), under this regulation a paying or returning bank does not obtain credit for a returned check by charge-back but by, in effect, presenting the returned check to the depositary bank. This paragraph imposes an obligation to "pay" a returned check that is similar to the obligation to pay a forward collection check by a paying bank, except that the depositary bank may not return a returned check for which it is the depositary bank. Also, certain means of payment, such as remittance drafts, may be used only with the agreement of the returning bank.

2.  The depositary bank must pay for a returned check by the close of the banking day on which it received the returned check. The day on which a returned check is received is determined pursuant to U.C.C. 4--108, which permits the bank to establish a cut-off our, generally not earlier than 2:00 p.m., and treat checks received after that hour as being received on the next banking day. If the depositary bank is unable to make payment to a returning or paying bank on the banking day that it receives the returned check, because the returning or paying bank is closed for a holiday or because the time when the depositary bank received the check is after the close of Fedwire, e.g., west coast banks with late cut-off hours, payment may be made on the next banking day of the bank receiving payment.

3.  Payment must be made so that the funds are available for use by the bank returning the check to the depositary bank on the day the check is received by the depositary bank. For example, a depositary bank meets this requirement if it sends a wire transfer of funds to the returning or paying bank on the day it receives the returned check, even if the returning or paying bank has closed for the day. A wire transfer should indicate the purpose of the payment.

A bank must identify an item of information if the bank is uncertain as to that item's accuracy. A bank may make this identification by setting the item off with question marks, asterisks, or other symbols designated for this purpose by generally applicable industry standards.

4.  The depositary bank use a net settlement arrangement to settle for a returned check. Banks with net settlement agreements could net the appropriate credits and debits for returned checks with the accounting entries for forward collection checks if they so desired. If, for purposes of establishing additional controls or for other reasons, the banks involved desired a separate settlement for returned checks, a separate net settlement agreement could be established.

5.  The bank sending the returned check to the depositary bank may agree to accept payment at a later date if, for example, it does not believe that the amount of the returned check or checks warrants the costs of same-day payment. Thus, a returning or paying bank may agree to accept payment through an ACH credit or debit transfer that settles the day after the returned check is received instead of a wire transfer that settles on the same day.

6.  This paragraph and this subpart do not affect the depositary bank's right to recover a provisional settlement with its nonbank customer for a check that is returned. (See also §§ 229.19(c)(2)(ii), 229.33(d) and 229.35(b).)

C.  229.32(c) Misrouted Returned Checks

1.  This paragraph permits a bank receiving a check on the basis that it is the depositary bank to send the misrouted returned check to the correct depositary bank, if it can identify the correct depositary bank, either directly or through a returning bank agreeing to handle the check expeditiously under § 229.30(a). In these cases, the bank receiving the check is acting as a returning bank. Alternatively, the bank receiving the misrouted returned check must send the check back to the bank from which it was received. In either case the bank to which the returned check was misrouted could receive settlement for the check. The depositary bank would be required to pay for the returned check under § 229.32(b), and any other bank to which the check is sent under this paragraph would be required to settle for the check as a returning bank under § 229.31(c). If the check was originally received "free," that is, without a charge for the check, the bank incorrectly receiving the check would have to return the check, without a charge, to the bank from which it came. The bank to which the returned check was misrouted is required to act promptly but is not required to meet the expeditious return requirements of § 229.31(a); however, it must act within its midnight deadline. This paragraph does not affect a bank's duties under § 229.35(b).

D.  229.32(d) Charges

1.  This paragraph prohibits a depositary bank from charging the equivalent of a presentment fee for returned checks. A returning bank, however, may charge a fee for handling returned checks. If the returning bank receives a mixed cash letter of returned checks, which includes some checks for which the returning bank also is the depositary bank, the fee may be applied to all the returned checks in the cash letter. In the case of a sorted cash letter containing only returned checks for which the returning bank is the depositary bank, however, no fee may be charged.

XIX. Section 229.33 Notice of Nonpayment

A.  229.33(a) Requirement

1.  Notice of nonpayment as required by this section and written notice in lieu of return as provided in §§ 229.30(f) and 229.31(f) serve different functions. The two kinds of notice, however, must meet the content requirements of this section. The paying bank must send a notice of nonpayment if it decides not to pay a check of $2,500 or more. A paying bank may rely on an amount encoded on the check in magnetic ink to determine whether the check is in the amount of $2,500 or more. The notice of nonpayment carries no value, and the check itself (or the notice in lieu of return) must be returned. The paying bank must ensure that the notice of nonpayment is received by the depositary bank by 4:00 p.m. local time on the second business day following presentment. A bank identified by routing number as the paying bank is considered the paying bank under this regulation and would be required to create a notice of nonpayment even though that bank determined that the check was not drawn by a customer of that bank. (See Commentary to the definition of paying bank in § 229.2(z).)

2.  The paying bank should not send a notice of nonpayment until it has finally determined not to pay the check. Under § 229.34(b), by sending the notice the paying bank warrants that it has returned or will return the check. If a paying bank sends a notice and subsequently decides to pay the check, the paying bank may mitigate its liability on this warranty by notifying the depositary bank that the check has been paid.

3.  Because the return of the check itself may serve as the required notice of nonpayment, in many cases no notice other than the return of the check will be necessary. For example, in many cases the return of a check through a clearinghouse to another participant of the clearinghouse will be made in time to meet the time requirements of this section. If the check normally will not be received by the depositary bank within the time limits for notice, the return of the check will not satisfy the notice requirement. In determining whether the returned check will satisfy the notice requirement, the paying bank may rely on the availability schedules of returning banks as the time that the returned check is expected to be delivered to the depositary bank unless the paying bank has reason to know the availability schedules are inaccurate.

4.  Unless the returned check is used to satisfy the notice requirement, the requirement for notice is independent of and does not affect the requirements for timely and expeditious return of the check under § 229.30 and the U.C.C. (See § 229.30(a).) If a paying bank fails both to comply with this section and to comply with the requirements for timely and expeditious return under § 229.30 and the U.C.C. and Regulation J (12 CFR part 210), the paying bank shall be liable under either this section or such other requirements, but not both. (See § 229.38(b).) A paying bank is not responsible for failure to give notice of nonpayment to a party that has breached a presentment warranty under U.C.C. 4--208, notwithstanding that the paying bank may have returned the check. (See U.C.C. 4--208 and 4--302.)

B.  229.33(b) Content of Notices

1.  This paragraph provides that the notice must at a minimum contain eight elements which are specifically enumerated. In the case of written notices, the name and routing number of the depositary bank also are required.

2.  If the paying bank cannot identify the depositary bank from the check itself, it may wish to send the notice to the earliest collecting bank it can identify and indicate that the notice is not being sent to the depositary bank. The collecting bank may be able to identify the depositary bank and forward the notice, but is under no duty to do so. In addition, the collecting bank may actually be the depositary bank.

C.  229.33(c) Acceptance of Notice

1.  In the case of a written notice, the depositary bank is required to accept notices at the locations specified in § 229.32(a). In the case of telephone notices, the bank may not refuse to accept notices at the telephone numbers identified in this section, but may transfer calls or use a recording device. Banks may vary by agreement the location and manner in which notices are received.

D.  229.33(d) Notification to Customer

1.  This paragraph requires a depositary bank to notify its customer of nonpayment upon receipt of a returned check or notice of nonpayment, regardless of the amount of the check or notice. This requirement is similar to the requirement under the U.C.C. as interpreted in Appliance Buyers Credit Corp. v. Prospect National Bank, 708 F.2d 290 (7th Cir. 1983), that a depositary bank may be liable for damages incurred by its customer for its failure to give its customer timely advice that it has received a notice of nonpayment. Notice also must be given if a depositary bank receives a notice of recovery under § 229.35(b). A bank that chooses to provide the notice required by § 229.33(d) in writing may send the notice by e-mail or facsimile if the bank sends the notice to the e-mail address or facsimile number specified by the customer for that purpose. The notice to the customer required under this paragraph also may satisfy the notice requirement of § 229.13(g) if the depositary bank invokes the reasonable-cause exception of § 229.13(e) due to the receipt of a notice of nonpayment, provided the notice meets all the requirements of § 229.13(g). The notice to the customer required under this paragraph also may satisfy the notice requirement of § 229.13(g) if the depositary bank invokes the reasonable cause exception of § 229.13(e) due to the receipt of a notice of nonpayment, provided the notice meets the other requirements of § 229.13(g).

XX. Section 229.34 Warranties

A.  229.34(a) Warranty of Returned Check

1.  This paragraph includes warranties that a returned check, including a notice in lieu of return, was returned by the paying bank, or in the case of a check payable by a bank and payable through another bank, the bank by which the check is payable, within the deadline under the U.C.C. (subject to any claims or defenses under the U.C.C., such as breach of a presentment warranty), Regulation J (12 CFR part 210), or § 229.30(c); that the paying or returning bank is authorized to return the check; that the returned check has not been materially altered; and that, in the case of a notice in lieu of return, the original check has not been and will not be returned for payment. The warranty does not include a warranty that the bank complied with the expeditious return requirements of §§ 229.30(a) and 229.31(a). These warranties do not apply to checks drawn on the United States Treasury, to U.S. Postal Service money orders, or to checks drawn on a state or a unit of general local government that are not payable through or at a bank. (See § 229.42.)

B.  229.34(b) Warranty of Notice of Nonpayment

1.  This paragraph provides for warranties for notices of nonpayment. This warranty does not include a warranty that the notice is accurate and timely under § 229.33. The requirements of § 229.33 that are not covered by the warranty are subject to the liability provisions of § 229.38. These warranties are designed to give the depositary bank more confidence in relying on notices of nonpayment. This paragraph imposes liability on a paying bank that gives notice of nonpayment and then subsequently returns the check. (See Commentary on § 229.33(a).)

C.  229.34(c) Warranty of Settlement Amount, Encoding, and Offset

1.  Paragraph (c)(1) provides that a bank that presents and receives settlement for checks warrants to the paying bank that the settlement it demands (e.g., as noted on the cash letter) equals the total amount of the checks it presents. This paragraph gives the paying bank a warranty claim against the presenting bank for the amount of any excess settlement made on the basis of the amount demanded, plus expenses. If the amount demanded is understated, a paying bank discharges its settlement obligation under U.C.C. 4--301 by paying the amount demanded, but remains liable for the amount by which the demand is understated; the presenting bank is nevertheless liable for expenses in resolving the adjustment.

2.  When checks or returned checks are transferred to a collecting, returning, or depositary bank, the transfer bank is not required to demand settlement, as is required upon presentment to the paying bank. However, often the checks or returned checks will be accompanied by information (such as a cash letter listing) that will indicate the total of the checks or returned checks. Paragraph (c)(2) provides if the transferor bank includes information indicating the total amount of checks or returned checks transferred, it warrants that the information is correct (i.e., equals the actual total of the items).

3.  Paragraph (c)(3) provides that a bank that presents or transfers a check or returned check warrants the accuracy of the magnetic ink encoding that was placed on the item after issue, and that exists at the time of presentment or transfer, to any bank that subsequently handles the check or returned check. Under U.C.C. 4--209(a), only the encoder (or the encoder and the depositary bank, if the encoder is a customer of the depositary bank) warrants the encoding accuracy, thus any claims on the warranty must be directed to the encoder. Paragraph (c)(3) expands on the U.C.C. by providing that all banks that transfer or present a check or returned check make the encoding warranty. In addition, under the U.C.C., the encoder makes the warranty to subsequent collecting banks and the paying bank, while paragraph (c)(3) provides that the warranty is made to banks in the return chain as well. Paragraph (c)(3) applies to all MICR-line encoding on a substitute check.

4.  A paying bank that settles for an overstated cash letter because of a misencoded check may make a warranty claim against the presenting bank under paragraph (c)(1) (which would require the paying bank to show that the check was part of the overstated cash letter) or an encoding warranty claim under paragraph (c)(3) against the presenting bank or any preceding bank that handled the misencoded check.

5.  Paragraph (c)(4) provides that a paying bank or a depositary bank may set off excess settlement paid to another bank against settlement owed to that bank for checks presented or returned checks received (for which it is the depositary bank) subsequent to the excess settlement.

D.  229.34(d) Transfer and Presentment Warranties

1.  A bank that transfers or presents a remotely created check and receives a settlement or other consideration warrants that the person on whose account the check is drawn authorized the issuance of the check in the amount stated on the check and to the payee stated on the check. The warranties are given only by banks and only to subsequent banks in the collection chain. The warranties ultimately shift liability for the loss created by an unauthorized remotely created check to the depositary bank. The depositary bank cannot assert the transfer and presentment warranties against a depositor. However, a depositary bank may, by agreement, allocate liability for such an item to the depositor and also may have a claim under other laws against that person.

2.  The transfer and presentment warranties for remotely created checks supplement the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule, which requires telemarketers that submit checks for payment to obtain the customer's "express verifiable authorization" (the authorization may be either in writing or tape recorded and must be made available upon request to the customer's bank). 16 CFR 310.3(a)(3). The transfer and presentment warranties shift liability to the depositary bank only when the remotely created check is unauthorized, and would not apply when the customer initially authorizes a check but then experiences "buyer's remorse" and subsequently tries to revoke the authorization by asserting a claim against the paying bank under U.C.C. 4--401. If the depositary bank suspects "buyer's remorse," it may obtain from its customer the express verifiable authorization of the check by the paying bank's customer, required under the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule, and use that authorization as a defense to the warranty claim.

3.  The scope of the transfer and presentment warranties for remotely created checks differs from that of the corresponding U.C.C. warranty provisions in two respects. The U.C.C. warranties differ from the § 229.34(d) warranties in that they are given by any person, including a nonbank depositor, that transfers a remotely created check and not just to a bank, as is the case under § 229.34(d). In addition, the U.C.C. warranties state that the person on whose account the item is drawn authorized the issuance of the item in the amount for which the item is drawn. The § 229.34(d) warranties specifically cover the amount as well as the payee stated on the check. Neither the U.C.C. warranties, nor the § 229.34(d) warranties apply to the date stated on the remotely created check.

4.  A bank making the § 229.34(d) warranties may defend a claim asserting violation of the warranties by proving that the customer of the paying bank is precluded by U.C.C. 4--406 from making a claim against the paying bank. This may be the case, for example, if the customer failed to discover the unauthorized remotely created check in a timely manner.

5.  The transfer and presentment warranties for a remotely created check apply to a remotely created check that has been reconverted to a substitute check.

E.  229.34(d) Damages

1.  This paragraph adopts for the warranties in § 229.34(a), (b), and (c) the damages provided in U.C.C. 4--207(c) and 4A--506(b). (See definition of interest compensation in § 229.2(oo).)

F.  229.34(e) Tender of Defense

1.  This paragraph adopts for this regulation the vouching-in provisions of U.C.C. 3--119.

G.  F.229.34(f) Notice of Claim

1.  This paragraph adopts the notice provisions of U.C.C. sections 4--207(d) and 4--208(e). The time limit set forth in this paragraph applies to notices of claims for warranty breaches only. As provided in § 229.38(g), all actions under this section must be brought within one year after the date of the occurrence of the violation involved.

XXI. Section 229.35 Indorsements

A.  229.35(a) Indorsement Standards

1.  This section and appendix D require banks to use a standard form of indorsement when indorsing checks during the forward collection and return process. The standard provides for indorsements by all collecting and returning banks, plus a unique standard for depository bank indorsements. It is designed to facilitate the identification of the depositary bank and the prompt return of checks. The regulation places a duty on banks to ensure that their indorsements can be interpreted by any person. The indorsement standard specifies the information each indorsement must contain and its location and ink color.

2.  Banks generally apply indorsements to a paper check in one of two ways: (1) banks print or "spray" indorsements onto a check when the check is processed through the banks" automated check sorters (regardless of whether the checks are original checks or substitute checks), and (2) reconverting banks print or "overlay" previously applied electronic indorsements and their own indorsements and identifications onto a substitute check at the time that the substitute check is created. If a subsequent substitute check is created in the course of collection or return, that substitute check will contain, in its image of the back of the previous substitute check, reproductions of indorsements that were sprayed or overlaid onto the previous item. For purposes of the indorsement standard set forth in appendix D, a reproduction of a previously applied sprayed or overlaid indorsement contained within an image of a check does not constitute "an indorsement that previously was applied electronically." To accommodate these two indorsement scenarios, the appendix includes two indorsement location specifications: one standard applies to banks spraying indorsements onto existing paper original checks and substitute checks, and another applies to reconverting banks overlaying indorsements that previously were applied electronically and their own indorsements onto substitute checks at the time the substitute checks are created.

3.  A bank might use check processing equipment that captures an image of a check prior to spraying an indorsement onto that item. If the bank truncates that item, it should ensure that it also applies an indorsement to the item electronically. A reconverting bank satisfies its obligation to preserve all previously applied indorsements by overlaying a bank's indorsement that previously was applied electronically onto a substitute check that the reconverting bank creates.

4.  The location of an indorsement applied to an original paper check in accordance with appendix D may shift if that check is truncated and later reconverted to a substitute check. If an indorsement applied tot he original check in accordance with appendix D is overwritten by a subsequent indorsement applied to the substitute check in accordance with appendix D, then one or both of those indorsements could be rendered illegible. As explained in § 229.38(d) and the commentary thereto, a reconverting bank is liable for losses associated with indorsements that are rendered illegible as a result of check substitution.

5.  To ensure that indorsements can be easily read and would remain legible after an image of a check is captured, the standard requires all indorsements applied to original checks and substitute check to be printed in black ink as of January 1, 2006.

6.  The standard requires the depositary bank's indorsement to include (1) its nine-digit routing number set off by an arrow at each end of the routing number and, if the depositary bank is a reconverting bank with respect to the check, an asterisk outside the arrow at each end of the routing number to identify the bank as a reconverting bank; (2) the indorsement date; and (3) if the indorsement is applied physically, name or location information. The standard also permits but does not require the indorsement to include other identifying information. The standard requires a collecting bank's or returning bank's indorsement to include only (1) the bank's nine digit routing number (without arrows) and, if the collecting bank or returning bank is a reconverting bank with respect to the check, an asterisk at each end of the number to identify the bank as a reconverting bank, (2) the indorsement date, and (3) an optional trace or sequence number.

7.  Depositary banks should not include information that can be confused with required information. For example a nine-digit zip code could be confused with the nine-digit routing number.

8.  A depositary bank may want to include an address in its indorsement in order to limit the number of locations at which it must receive returned checks. In instances where this address is not consistent with the routing number in the indorsement, the depositary bank is required to receive returned checks at a branch or head office consistent with the routing number. Banks should note, however, that § 229.32 requires a depositary bank to receive returned checks at the location(s) at which it receives forward-collection checks.

9.  In addition to indorsing a substitute check in accordance with appendix D, a reconverting bank must identify itself and the truncating bank by applying its routing number and the routing number of the truncating bank to the front of the check in accordance with appendix D and ANS X9.100--140. Further, if the reconverting bank is the paying bank, it also must identify itself by applying its routing number to the back of the check in accordance with appendix D. In these instances, the reconverting bank and truncating bank routing numbers are for identification purposes only and are not indorsements or acceptances.

10.  Under the U.C.C., a specific guarantee of prior indorsement is not necessary. (See U.C.C. 4--207(a) and 4--208(a). Use of guarantee language in indorsements, such as "P.E.G." ("prior indorsements guaranteed"), may result in reducing the type size used in bank indorsements, thereby making them more difficult to read. Use of this language may make it more difficult for other banks to identify the depositary bank. Subsequent collecting bank indorsements may not include this language.

11.  If the bank maintaining the account into which a check is deposited agrees with another bank (a correspondent, ATM operator, or lock box operator) to have the other bank accept returns and notices of nonpayment for the bank of account, the indorsement placed on the check as the depositary bank indorsement may be the indorsement of the bank that acts as correspondent, ATM operator, or lock box operator as provided in paragraph (d) of this section.

12.  The backs of many checks bear preprinted information or blacked out areas for various reasons. For example, some checks are printed with a carbon band across the back that allows the transfer of information from the check to a ledger with one writing. Also, contracts or loan agreements are printed on certain checks. Other checks that are mailed to recipients may contain areas on the back that are blacked out so that they may not be read through the mailer. On the deposit side, the payee of the check may place its indorsement or information identifying the drawer of the check in the area specified for the depositary bank indorsement, thus making the depositary bank indorsement unreadable.

13.  The indorsement standard does not prohibit the use of a carbon band or other printed or written matter on the backs of checks and does not require banks to avoid placing their indorsements in these areas. Nevertheless, checks will be handled more efficiently if depositary banks design indorsement stamps so that the nine-digit routing number avoids the carbon band area. Indorsing parties other than banks, e.g., corporations, will benefit from the faster return of checks if they protect the identifiability and legibility of the depositary bank indorsement by staying clear of the area reserved for the depositary bank indorsement.

14.  Section 229.38(d) allocates responsibility for loss resulting from a delay in return of a check due to indorsements that are unreadable because of material on the back of the check. The depositary bank is responsible for a loss resulting from a delay in return caused by the condition of the check arising after its issuance until its acceptance by the depositary bank that made the depositary bank's indorsement illegible. The paying bank is responsible for loss resulting from a delay in return caused by indorsements that are not readable because of other material on the back of the check at the time that it was issued. Depositary and paying banks may shift these risks to their customers by agreement.

15.  The standard does not require the paying bank to indorse the check; however, if a paying bank does indorse a check that is returned, it should follow the indorsement standard for collecting banks returning banks. The standard requires collecting and returning banks to indorse the check for tracing purposes. With respect to the identification of a paying bank that is also a reconverting bank, see the commentary to § 229.51(b)(2).

B.  229.35(b) Liability of Bank Handling Check

1.  When a check is sent for forward collection, the collection process results in a chain of indorsements extending from the depositary bank through any subsequent collecting banks to the paying bank. This section extends the indorsement chain through the paying bank to the returning banks, and would permit each bank to recover from any prior indorser if the claimant bank does not receive payment for the check from a subsequent bank in the collection or return chain. For example, if a returning bank returned a check to an insolvent depositary bank, and did not receive the full amount of the check from the failed bank, the returning bank could obtain the unrecovered amount of the check from any bank prior to it in the collection and return chain including the paying bank. Because each bank in the collection and return chain could recover from a prior bank, any loss would fall on the first collecting bank that received the check from the depositary bank. To avoid circuitry of actions, the returning bank could recover directly from the first collecting bank. Under the U.C.C., the first collecting bank might ultimately recover from the depositary bank's customer or from the other parties on the check.

2.  Where a check is returned through the same banks used for the forward collection of the check, priority during the forward collection process controls over priority in the return process for the purpose of determining prior and subsequent banks under this regulation.

3.  Where a returning bank is insolvent and fails to pay the paying bank or a prior returning bank for a returned check, § 229.39(a) requires the receiver of the failed bank to return the check to the bank that transferred the check to the failed bank. That bank then either could continue the return to the depositary bank or recover based on this paragraph. Where the paying bank is insolvent, and fails to pay the collecting bank, the collecting bank also could recover from a prior collecting bank under this paragraph, and the bank from which it recovered could in turn recover from its prior collecting bank until the loss settled on the depositary bank (which could recover from its customer).

4.  A bank is not required to make a claim against an insolvent bank before exercising its right to recovery under this paragraph. Recovery may be made by charge-back or by other means. This right of recovery also is permitted even where nonpayment of the check is the result of the claiming bank's negligence such as failure to make expeditious return, but the claiming bank remains liable for its negligence under § 229.38.

5.  This liability is imposed on a bank handling a check for collection or return regardless of whether the bank's indorsement appears on the check. Notice must be sent under this paragraph to a prior bank from which recovery is sought reasonably promptly after a bank learns that it did not receive payment from another bank, and learns the identity of the prior bank. Written notice reasonably identifying the check and the basis for recovery is sufficient if the check is not available. Receipt of notice by the bank against which the claim is made is not a precondition to recovery by charge-back or other means; however, a bank may be liable for negligence for failure to provide timely notice. A paying or returning bank also may recover from a prior collecting bank as provided in §§ 229.30(b) and 229.31(b). This provision is not a substitute for a paying or returning bank making expeditious return under §§ 229.30(a) or 229.31(b). This paragraph does not affect a paying bank's accountability for a check under U.C.C. 4--215(a) and 4--302. Nor does this paragraph affect a collecting bank's accountability under U.C.C. 4--213 and 4--215(d). A collecting bank becomes accountable upon receipt of final settlement as provided in the foregoing U.C.C. sections. The term final settlement in §§ 229.31(c) and 229.32(b), and 229.36(d) is intended to be consistent with the use of the term final settlement in the U.C.C. (e.g., U.C.C. 4--213, 4--214, and 4--215). (See also § 229.2(cc) and Commentary).

6.  This paragraph also provides that a bank may have the rights of a holder based on the handling of the check for collection or return. A bank may become a holder or a holder in due course regardless of whether prior banks have complied with the indorsement standard in § 229.35(a) and appendix D.

7.  This paragraph affects the following provisions of the U.C.C., and may affect other provisions:

a.  Section 4--214(a), in that the right to recovery is not based on provisional settlement, and recovery may be had from any prior bank. Section 4--214(a) would continue to permit a depositary bank to recover a provisional settlement from its customer. (See § 229.33(d).)

b.  Section 3--415 and related provisions (such as section 3--503), in that such provisions would not apply as between banks, or as between the depositary bank and its customer.

C.  229.35(c) Indorsement by Bank

1.  This section protects the rights of a customer depositing a check in a bank without requiring the words "pay any bank," as required by the U.C.C. (See U.C.C. 4--201(b).) Use of this language in a depositary bank's indorsement will make it more difficult for other banks to identify the depositary bank. The indorsement standard in appendix D prohibits such material in subsequent collecting bank indorsements. The existence of a bank indorsement provides notice of the restrictive indorsement without any additional words.

D.  229.35(d) Indorsement for Depositary Bank

1.  This section permits a depositary bank to arrange with another bank to indorse checks. This practice may occur when a correspondent indorses for a respondent, or when the bank servicing an ATM or lock box indorses for the bank maintaining the account in which the check is deposited--i.e., the depositary bank. If the indorsing bank applies the depositary bank's indorsement, checks will be returned to the depositary bank. If the indorsing bank does not apply the depositary bank's indorsement, by agreement with the depositary bank it may apply its own indorsement as the depositary bank indorsement. In that case, the depositary bank's own indorsement on the check (if any) should avoid the location reserved for the depositary bank. The actual depositary bank remains responsible for the availability and other requirements of Subpart B, but the bank indorsing as depositary bank is considered the depositary bank for purposes of subpart C. The check will be returned, and notice of nonpayment will be given, to the bank indorsing as depositary bank.

2.  Because the depositary bank for Subpart B purposes will desire prompt notice of nonpayment, its arrangement with the indorsing bank should provide for prompt notice of nonpayment. The bank indorsing as depositary bank may require the depositary bank to agree to take up the check if the check is not paid even if the depositary bank's indorsement does not appear on the check and it did not handle the check. The arrangement between the banks may constitute an agreement varying the effect of provisions of subpart C under § 229.37.

XXII. Section 229.36 Presentment and Issuance of Checks

A.  229.36(a) Payable Through and Payable at Checks

1.  For purposes of subpart C, the regulation defines a payable-through or payable-at bank (which would be designated the collectible-through or collectible-at bank) as a paying bank. The requirements of § 229.30(a) and the notice of nonpayment requirements of § 229.33 are imposed on a payable-through or payable-at bank and are based on the time of receipt of the forward collection check by the payable-through or payable-at bank. This provision is intended to speed the return of checks that are payable through or at a bank to the depositary bank.

B.  229.36(b) Receipt at Bank Office or Processing Center

1.  This paragraph seeks to facilitate efficient presentment of checks to promote early return or notice of nonpayment to the depositary bank and clarifies the law as to the effect of presentment by routing number. This paragraph differs from § 229.32(a) because presentment of checks differs from delivery of returned checks.

2.  The paragraph specifies four locations at which the paying bank must accept presentment of checks. Where the check is payable through a bank and the check is sent to that bank, the payable-through bank is the paying bank for purposes of this subpart, regardless of whether the paying bank must present the check to another bank or to a nonbank payor for payment.

a.  Delivery of checks may be made, and presentment is considered to occur, at a location (including a processing center) requested by the paying bank. This is the way most checks are presented by banks today. This provision adopts the common law rule of a number of legal decisions that the processing center acts as the agent of the paying bank to accept presentment and to begin the time for processing of the check. (See also U.C.C. 4--204(c).) If a bank designates different locations for the presentment of forward collection checks bearing different routing numbers, for purposes of this paragraph it requests presentment of checks bearing a particular routing number only at the location designated for receipt of forward collection checks bearing that routing number.

b. i.  Delivery may be made at an office of the bank associated with the routing number on the check. The office associated with the routing number of a bank is found in American Bankers Association Key to Routing Numbers, published by an agent of the American Bankers Association, which lists a city and state address for each routing number. Checks generally are handled by collecting banks on the basis of the nine-digit routing number encoded in magnetic ink (or on the basis of the fractional form routing number if the magnetic ink characters are obliterated) on the check, rather than the printed name or address. The definition of a paying bank in § 229.2(z) includes a bank designated by routing number, whether or not there is a name on the check, and whether or not any name is consistent with the routing number. Where a check is payable by one bank, but payable through another, the routing number is that of a payable-through bank, not that of the payor bank. As the payor bank has selected the payable-through bank as the point through which presentment is to be made, it is proper to treat the payable-through bank as the paying bank for purposes of this section.

ii.  There is no requirement in the regulation that the name and address on the check agree with the address associated with the routing number on the check. A bank generally may control the use of its routing number, just as it does the use of its name. The address associated with the routing number may be a processing center.

iii.  In some cases, a paying bank may have several offices in the city associated with the routing number. In such case, it would not be reasonable or efficient to require the presenting bank to sort the checks by more specific branch addresses that might be printed on the checks, and to deliver the checks to each branch. A collecting bank normally would deliver all checks to one location. In cases where checks are delivered to a branch other than the branch on which they may be drawn, computer and courier communication among branches should permit the paying bank to determine quickly whether to pay the check.

c.  If the check specifies the name of the paying bank but no address, the bank must accept delivery at any office. Where delivery is made by a person other than a bank, or where the routing number is not readable, delivery will be made based on the name and address of the paying bank on the check. If there is no address, delivery may be made at any office of the paying bank. This provision is consistent with U.C.C. 3--111, which states that presentment for payment may be made at the place specified in the instrument, or, if there is none, at the place of business of the party to pay. Thus, there is a trade-off for a paying bank between specifying a particular address on a check to limit locations of delivery, and simply stating the name of the bank to encourage wider currency for the check.

d.  If the check specifies the name and address of a branch or head office, or other location (such as a processing center), the check may be delivered by delivery to that office or other location. If the address is too general to identify a particular office, delivery may be made at any office consistent with the address. For example, if the address is "San Francisco, California," each office in San Francisco must accept presentment. The designation of an address on the check generally is in the control of the paying bank.

3.  This paragraph may affect U.C.C. 3--111 to the extent that the U.C.C. requires presentment to occur at a place specified in the instrument.

C.  229.36(c) Truncation

1.  Truncation includes a variety of procedures in which the physical check is held or delayed by the depositary or collecting bank, and the information from the check is transmitted to the paying bank electronically. Presentment takes place when the paying bank receives the electronic transmission. This process has the potential to improve the efficiency of check processing, and express provision for truncation and electronic presentment is made in U.C.C. 4--110 and 4--406(b). This paragraph allows truncation by agreement with the paying bank; however, such agreement may not prejudice the interests of prior parties to the check. For example, a truncation agreement may not extend the paying bank's time for return. Such an extension could damage the depositary bank, which must make funds available to its customers under mandatory availability schedules.

D.  229.36(d) Liability of Bank During Forward Collection

1.  This paragraph makes settlement between banks during forward collection final when made, subject to any deferment of credit, just as settlements between banks during the return of checks are final. In addition, this paragraph clarifies that this change does not affect the liability scheme under U.C.C. 4--201 during forward collections of a check. That U.C.C. section provides that, unless a contrary intent clearly appears, a bank is an agent or subagent of the owner of a check, but that Article 4 of the U.C.C. applies even though a bank may have purchased an item and is the owner of it. This paragraph preserves the liability of a collecting bank to prior collecting banks and the depositary bank's customer for negligence during the forward collection of a check under the U.C.C., even though this paragraph provides that settlement between banks during forward collection is final rather than provisional. Settlement by a paying bank is not considered to be final payment for the purposes of U.C.C. 4--215(a)(2) or (3), because a paying bank has the right to recover settlement from a returning or depositary bank to which it returns a check under this subpart. Other provisions of the U.C.C. not superseded by this subpart, such as section 4--202, also continue to apply to the forward collection of a check and may apply to the return of a check. (See definition of returning bank in § 229.2(cc).)

E.  229.36(e) Issuance of Payable Through Checks

1.  If a bank arranges for checks payable by it to be payable through another bank, it must require its customers to use checks that contain conspicuously on their face the name, location, and first four digits of the nine-digit routing number of the bank by which the check is payable and the legend "payable through" followed by the name and location of the payable-through bank. The first four digits of the nine-digit routing number and the location of the bank by which the check is payable must be associated with the same check processing region. (This section does not affect § 229.36(b).) The required information is deemed conspicuous if it is printed in a type size not smaller than six-point type and if it is contained in the title plate, which is located in the lower left quadrant of the check. The required information may be conspicuous if it is located elsewhere on the check.

2.  If a payable-through check does not meet the requirements of this paragraph, the bank by which the check is payable may be liable to the depositary bank or others as provided in § 229.38. For example, a bank by which a payable-through check is payable could be liable to a depositary bank that suffers a loss, such as lost interest or liability under Subpart B, that would not have occurred had the check met the requirements of this paragraph. Similarly, a bank may be liable under § 229.38 if a check payable by it that is not payable through another bank is labeled as provided in this section. For example, a bank that holds checking accounts and processes checks at a central location but has widely-dispersed branches may be liable under this section if it labels all of its checks as "payable through" a single branch and includes the name, address, and four-digit routing symbol of another branch. These checks would not be payable through another bank and should not be labeled as payable-through checks. (All of a bank's offices within the United States are considered part of the same bank; see § 229.2(e).) In this example, the bank by which the checks are payable could be liable to a depositary bank that suffers a loss, such as lost interest or liability under Subpart B, due to the mislabeled check. The bank by which the check is payable may be liable for additional damages if it fails to act in good faith.

F.  229.36(f) Same-Day Settlement

1.  This paragraph provides that, under certain conditions, a paying bank must settle with a presenting bank for a check on the same day the check is presented in order to avail itself of the ability to return the check on its next banking day under U.C.C. 4--301 and 4--302. This paragraph does not apply to checks presented for immediate payment over the counter. Settling for a check under this paragraph does not constitute final payment of the check under the U.C.C. This paragraph does not supersede or limit the rules governing collection and return of checks through Federal Reserve banks that are contained in subpart A of Regulation J (12 CFR part 210).

2.  Presentment requirements.

a.  Location and time.

i.  For presented checks to qualify for mandatory same-day settlement, information accompanying the checks must indicate that presentment is being made under this paragraph--e.g. "these checks are being presented for same-day settlement"--and must include a demand for payment of the total amount of the checks together with appropriate payment instructions in order to enable the paying bank to discharge its settlement responsibilities under this paragraph. In addition, the check or checks must be presented at a location designated by the paying bank for receipt of checks for same-day settlement by 8:00 a.m. local time of that location. The designated presentment location must be a location at which the paying bank would be considered to have received a check under § 229.36(b). The paying bank may not designate a location solely for presentment of checks subject to settlement under this paragraph; by designating a location for the purposes of § 229.36(f), the paying bank agrees to accept checks at that location for the purposes of § 229.36(b).

ii.  The designated presentment location also must be within the check processing region consistent with the nine-digit routing number encoded in magnetic ink on the check. A paying bank that uses more than one routing number associated with a single check processing region may designate, for purposes of this paragraph, one or more locations in that check processing region at which checks will be accepted, but the paying bank must accept any checks with a routing number associated with that check processing region at each designated location. A paying bank may designate a presentment location for traveler's checks with an 8000-series routing number anywhere in the country because these traveler's checks are not associated with any check processing region. The paying bank, however, must accept at that presentment location any other checks for which it is paying bank that have a routing number consistent with the check processing region of that location.

iii.  If the paying bank does not designate a presentment location, it must accept presentment for same-day settlement at any location identified in § 229.36(b), i.e., at an address of the bank associated with the routing number on the check, at any branch or head office if the bank is identified on the check by name without address, or at a branch, head office, or other location consistent with the name and address of the bank on the check if the bank is identified on the check by name and address. A paying bank and a presenting bank may agree that checks will be accepted for same-day settlement at an alternative location (e.g., at an intercept processor located in a different check processing region) or that the cut-off time for same-day settlement be earlier or later than 8:00 a.m. local time.

iv.  In the case of a check payable through a bank but payable by another bank, this paragraph does not authorize direct presentment to the bank by which the check is payable. The requirements of same-day settlement under this paragraph would apply to a payable-through or payable-at bank to which the check is sent for payment or collection.

b.  Reasonable delivery requirements. A check is considered presented when it is delivered to and payment is demanded at a location specified in paragraph (f)(1). Ordinarily, a presenting bank will find it necessary to contact the paying bank to determine the appropriate presentment location and any delivery instructions. Further, because presentment might not take place during the paying bank's banking day, a paying bank may establish reasonable delivery requirements to safeguard the checks presented, such as use of a night depository. If a presenting bank fails to follow reasonable delivery requirements established by the paying bank, it runs the risk that it will not have presented the checks. However, if no reasonable delivery requirements are established or if the paying bank does not make provisions for accepting delivery of checks during its non-business hours, leaving the checks at the presentment location constitutes effective presentment.

c.  Sorting of checks. A paying bank may require that checks presented to it for same-day settlement be sorted separately from other forward collection checks it receives as a collecting bank or returned checks it receives as a returning or depositary bank. For example, if a bank provides correspondent check collection services and receives unsorted checks from a respondent bank that include checks for which it is the paying bank and that would otherwise meet the requirements for same-day settlement under this section, the collecting bank need not make settlement in accordance with paragraph (f)(2). If the collecting bank receives sorted checks from its respondent bank, consisting only of checks for which the collecting bank is the paying bank and that meet the requirements for same-day settlement under this paragraph, the collecting bank may not charge a fee for handling those checks and must make settlement in accordance with this paragraph.

3.  Settlement

a.  If a bank presents a check in accordance with the time and location requirements for presentment under paragraph (f)(1), the paying bank either must settle for the check on the business day it receives the check without charging a presentment fee or return the check prior to the time for settlement. (This return deadline is subject to extension under § 229.30(c). The settlement must be in the form of a credit to an account designated by the presenting bank at a Federal Reserve bank (e.g., a Fedwire transfer). The presenting bank may agree with the paying bank to accept settlement in another form (e.g., credit to an account of the presenting bank at the paying bank or debit to an account of the paying bank at the presenting bank). The settlement must occur by the close of Fedwire on the business day the check is received by the paying bank. Under the provisions of § 229.34(c), a settlement owed to a presenting bank may be set off by adjustments for previous settlements with the presenting bank. (See also § 229.39(d).)

b.  Checks that are presented after the 8 a.m. (local time) presentment deadline for same-day settlement and before the paying bank's cut-off hour are treated as if they were presented under other applicable law and settled for or returned accordingly. However, for purposes of settlement only, the presenting bank may require the paying bank to treat such checks as presented for same-day settlement on the next business day in lieu of accepting settlement by cash or other means on the business day the checks are presented to the paying bank. Checks presented after the paying bank's cut-off hour or on non-business days, but otherwise in accordance with this paragraph, are considered presented for same-day settlement on the next business day.

4.  Closed Paying Bank

a.  There may be certain business days that are not banking days for the paying bank. Some paying banks may continue to settle for checks presented on these days (e.g., by opening their back office operations or by using an intercept processor). In other cases, a paying bank may be unable to settle for checks presented on a day it is closed.

If the paying bank closes on a business day and checks are presented to the paying bank in accordance with paragraph (f)(1), the paying bank is accountable for the checks unless it settles for or returns the checks by the close of Fedwire on its next banking day. In addition, checks presented on a business day on which the paying bank is closed are considered received on the paying bank's next banking day for purposes of the U.C.C. midnight deadline (U.C.C. 4--301 and 4--302) and this regulation's expeditious return and notice of nonpayment provisions.

b.  If the paying bank is closed on a business day voluntarily, the paying bank must pay interest compensation, as defined in § 229.2(oo), to the presenting bank for the value of the float associated with the check from the day of the voluntary closing until the day of settlement. Interest compensation is not required in the case of an involuntary closing on a business day, such as a closing required by state law. In addition, if the paying bank is closed on a business day due to emergency conditions, settlement delays and interest compensation may be excused under § 229.38(e) or U.C.C. 4--109(b).

5.  Good faith. Under § 229.38(a), both presenting banks and paying banks are held to a standard of good faith, defined in § 229.2(nn) to mean honesty in fact and the observance of reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing. For example, designating a presentment location or changing presentment locations for the primary purpose of discouraging banks from presenting checks for same-day settlement might not be considered good faith on the part of the paying bank. Similarly, presenting a large volume of checks without prior notice could be viewed as not meeting reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing and therefore may not constitute presentment in good faith. In addition, if banks, in the general course of business, regularly agree to certain practices related to same-day settlement, it might not be considered consistent with reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing, and therefore might not be considered good faith, for a bank to refuse to agree to those practices if agreeing would not cause it harm.

6.  U.C.C. sections affected. This paragraph directly affects the following provisions of the U.C.C. and may affect other sections or provisions:

a.  Section 4--204(b)(1), in that a presenting bank may not send a check for same-day settlement directly to the paying bank, if the paying bank designates a different location in accordance with paragraph (f)(1).

b.  Section 4--213(a), in that the medium of settlement for checks presented under this paragraph is limited to a credit to an account at a Federal Reserve bank and that, for checks presented after the deadline for same-day settlement and before the paying bank's cut-off hour, the presenting bank may require settlement on the next business day in accordance with this paragraph rather than accept settlement on the business day of presentment by cash.

c.  Section 4--301(a), in that, to preserve the ability to exercise deferred posting, the time limit specified in that section for settlement or return by a paying back on the banking day a check is received is superseded by the requirement to settle for checks presented under this paragraph by the close of Fedwire.

d.  Section 4--302(a), in that, to avoid accountability, the time limit specified in that section for settlement or return by a paying bank on the banking day a check is received is superseded by the requirement to settle for checks presented under this paragraph by the close of Fedwire.


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Last updated March 2, 2012 regs@fdic.gov

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