Can a Banking Regulation Be Your Good Friend?
By Gail Rickards
Use your debit card at a local store for a point-of-sale
purchase, authorize your car insurance company to automatically
charge your checking account for monthly premium payments,
make a transfer between accounts using your online banking
service, tell your bill payment service which bills to pay
this week and how much to pay--Regulation E stands right behind
you in case theres an error. Thats a good friend.
Regulation E, one of the FDICs consumer protection
regulations, has been in effect since the birth of ATMs and
electronic fund transfers. We all receive a copy of it when
we sign up for an ATM or debit card, online banking, or create
an EFT transaction agreement. Since most of us cant
remember what Regulation Es all about, heres a
quick review of its principal benefits.
ID and Password Missing?
Call your bank within 2 days of realizing that you cant
find your ID and password. Youll probably be asked to
follow-up in writing, but from the moment you notify the bank,
youre protected from unauthorized transactions beyond
If you wait more than 2 days, you could be liable for $500
in unauthorized activity. If your ATM or debit card is missing,
too, be sure you dont wait! The bank will quickly issue
you a new ID and password (and a replacement card if needed),
and everything will return to normal.
Strange Transactions on Your Statement?
You have 60 days from the date your bank statement is mailed
to you to let the bank know about any mysterious transactions.
The more often you pay with your debit card, withdraw cash
from an ATM, or pay your bills electronically, the more you
need to scrutinize your statement.
First, call your bank to let them know. Youll be asked
to provide a written description, generally within 10 days.
You may also be asked to complete and sign a Reg. E form--a
simple process that takes just a minute. To be sure you have
Reg. E protection, take the time to do whats necessary.
The bank begins its research as soon as its first notified
and removes the questionable transaction from your account
within 10 days. The bank will inform you of its findings,
and you will want to monitor your future statements carefully.
Reg. E requires that if a bank error caused the problem, the
bank must correct it promptly.
If you have more than one suspicious transaction, on a single
statement or on subsequent statements, its time to order
a replacement ATM or debit card with a new account number,
ID, and password. Talk with your banker when you file your
Need to Stop Payment on an E-Bill or Transfer?
You can stop a pre-authorized regular payment or transfer
that has a set dollar amount (such as your mortgage payment
or a transfer to your savings account). Call your bank at
least 3 business days before the payment is due to take place.
Be sure to follow up when asked to e-mail your request or
sign a stop payment form. If the transaction goes through
despite your order to stop it, the bank will be liable under
the terms of Reg. E.
You can stop a bill payment that has a different amount due
each month from being sent (such as your utility bill). Each
bill payment service is required by Reg. E to notify you 10
days before a bill is due to be paid and ask you what you
want done. At that time, you are free to cancel the payment
just once or permanently.
Dont Ask Your Friend to Cover For You
If your system or internet browser fails while youre
paying e-bills, Reg. E isnt liable for errors. If you
give someone your debit card, ID, and password, Reg. E isnt
liable. If 6 months after receiving a bank statement, you
question a transaction, Reg. E wont help you.
So be a good friend in return: write down your transactions,
protect your cards and identity, and balance your statement
as soon as it arrives. Youll enjoy a mutually beneficial
Do you have questions, comments or topic requests?
E-mail me at: email@example.com