What to Do When You Find Discrepancies in Your Bank Account Statements
It is every person’s nightmare that one day they access their savings account and with no fault of their own the balance is zero. In the present economy this seems more daunting than ever. The troubles with financial institutions might be out of our hands but mistaken money transfers and incorrect account balances are not. In this entry we will talk about the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) establishes rights and liability of consumers and financial institutions when they participate in electronic funds transfer activity. This could mean that the bank misplaced a fund transfer that you wanted to make between accounts, or there has been an ATM error, or if the balance in your account is simply wrong. This act is meant to protect you from inadvertent mistakes that the bank is responsible for but might deny you the credit on your account.
First lets talk about some exceptions to the act that might be of concern to you as a customer. First, any transaction that you set up to automatically transfer money into another account is not covered. The legislature reasoned that you are in the best possible position to prevent error so if an error occurs than you should bear the burden of it. Second, as a consumer this is not the act that gives you the right to stop a payment. Third, the EFTA does not cover all electronic transfers. If you have gift cards, prepaid cards, or phone cards, they are not covered under this act. Lastly, this act gives you some rights, but if your states rights are greater than the rights given by this act the state rights are preeminent. Basically whichever rights are greater, state or federal.
Another great protection this act provides is associated to your debit or checking card. If you lose your card and report it to the bank within two business days, you are only liable for $50 if somebody uses your card to buy something. If you wait more than two days, you are liable for $500. However do not wait over 60 business days because then the act imputes all the liability on to you and you can loose all the money in your account plus any applicable overdraft fees. So lets talk about the fact that your account has an error on it and it doesn’t fall into one of the above categories. So this is what you have to do under the act: Write or call your financial institution immediately if possible, if not make sure it is 60 days from the date of the first erroneous statement, or from the time you should have first known about it. Give the bank your name and account number. Explain to them that you believe there is an error in your account, what it is, the money that is missing, when you first noticed it, and that you are taking action as soon as you found out about it. Your financial institution might require you to send written notice of error within 10 business days. Now this is the responsibility of your financial institution: Within 45 days they must promptly investigate and resolve the error. Note that in certain circumstances the investigation may take up to 90 days. If the investigation takes more than 10 business days, the financial institution must credit your account with the amount in dispute. They must notify you of the result of the investigation. So they either fully re-credit your account, or they must explain to you in writing why there was no credit and that they are deducting the re-credit. You have the right to request copies of the investigation files.
The above is just a quick overview of what the law is on the subject of error under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. If you have any questions or concerns please contact The Jacob’s Law, LLC and we can help you figure out what consumer rights you are entitled to.