Your rights under EFTA
You have certain rights concerning electronic debits, electronic fund transfers, and electronic check conversions under the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA). These rights are explained in the Federal Reserve Board’s “Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws” www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/consumerhdbk/electronic.htm). and the brochure “When Is You Check Not a Check?” (www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/checkconv/default.htm).
The Federal Trade Commission’s publication “Automatic Debit Scams” (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/tmarkg/debit.pdf) explains your rights and what to do if you have a problem with a demand draft or remotely created check.
To be removed from telemarketing lists, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry online (https://www.donotcall.gov) or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-382-1222.
NSF Fees - Helpful Hints
- Keep track of your balance and if you don’t have enough money in your account, don’t write the check or authorize the debit
The easiest way to avoid fees is to keep track of your balance. Record all your transactions in a register, add for deposits and subtract for withdrawals as they occur. The worst thing you can do is write a check or authorize a debit without knowing if the funds are available. Checks are being processed more quickly, which means the money will be debited from your account sooner. Also, never rely on the ach or atm/debit network to simply deny you if funds aren’t available. It’s not their responsibility to know your balance, it’s yours.
- Review your statement
Make sure all the checks, debits, automatic payments, and other withdrawals are ones you authorized. Check for any recurring deposits or withdrawals that you may have forgotten to record, as well as any fees that you may have been charged during the month.
- Notify your credit union about any problems as soon as possible
If you see a transaction you did not authorize or one that has cleared for an incorrect amount, notify your credit union immediately. Keep copies of any documents you give them until the problem is resolved. If you think the problem is a result of fraud, also contact your state attorney general.
Don't Get Taken Advantage Of
Be wary if someone contacts you to “verify your account” and asks you for your financial or personal information. Even if they sound legitimate, do not respond to these requests. Your credit union obtains your information when your account is opened, your numbers don’t change, so there is never a need for us to contact you to “verify” your information.
Be cautious of criminals representing themselves as legitimate businesses. Only give your account information if you are familiar with the company, and if you have initiated the transaction. If someone contacts you with an offer and you are tempted to proceed, hang up and call them at a number that you found yourself in a business listing online or in the phone book. They may offer a bogus call back number, so it is best to find the number yourself to make sure you haven’t been misdirected.
The newest scams involve bogus contest or lottery winnings. You may be asked to either send the contest or lottery sponsor money to claim your prize, or return part of the proceeds that you were sent by returning a certified check from your credit union. If the prize is legitimate you will never have to pay for it, and if you didn’t enter the contest or buy the ticket you didn’t win the prize.
Talk to your credit union professional if you have any questions about how to protect yourself.
Check Balance Tip
Paper checks are valid for up to 12 months after the date of issue, unless otherwise marked on the face of the check.
The proper way to account for your outstanding checks is to subtract the amount from your balance as soon as the check is written. The same can be said for ACH withdrawals and card transactions. By properly recording your debits (check, ACH, card) as soon as they occur you will maintain an accurate balance, and it will not harm you if your debits do not clear in the order that they were authorized.
Do not blame the person or company that delays processing your check (especially if you had asked them to hold it) if it clears later than expected and you have not accounted for it in your balance.
Checking Account Tips
- Don’t give your account number and credit union routing information to anyone you don’t know
Give out your account information for transactions only if you are familiar with the company you are dealing with. And if you have not done business with a company before, give out account information only if you have initiated the transaction. Criminals may ask you for your credit union account number and then withdraw money from your account by creating a demand draft (sometimes called a “remotely created check”) or making an electronic transfer. They may also ask for your debit or credit card number and other personal information. Don’t fall for these scams and don’t let yourself be pressured into “free trial offers.” To be removed from telemarketing lists, sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry online (https://www.donotcall.gov) or by calling, toll-free, 1-888-382-1222.
- Review your monthly statement
Make sure all the checks, debits, automatic payments, and other withdrawals are ones you authorized. If you see a transaction you did not authorize, notify your credit union immediately.
- Notify your credit union about any problems as soon as possible
The sooner you alert your credit union to a problem, the sooner they can get it resolved. In some cases, your credit union may require you to notify them in writing. Keep copies of any documents you give the credit union until the problem is resolved. If you think the problem is a result of fraud, you should also contact your state attorney general.
- If you don’t have enough money in your account, don’t write the check or authorize the debit
Checks are being processed more quickly these days, which means the money may be debited from your account sooner. Also, many stores and utility, insurance, and credit card companies will convert your check to an electronic payment, which also means the money will be debited from your account sooner. If you don’t have enough money in your account when you write a check or authorize a debit, you could find yourself paying a fee. For more information, see the Federal Reserve Board’s publications “What You Should Know about Your Checks”
(www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/check21/shouldknow.htm) and “Protecting Yourself from Overdraft and Bounced Check Fees” (www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bounce/default.htm).
- Know your rights under consumer protection laws
If you have a problem with an electronic debit or electronic fund transfer, you have certain rights under the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), as explained in the Board’s “Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws” (www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/consumerhdbk
/electronic.htm). You also have rights under the EFTA if you have a problem with a check that has been converted, as described in the Board brochure “When Is You Check Not a Check?” (www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/checkconv/default.htm). The Federal Trade Commission’s publication “Automatic Debit Scams” (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/tmarkg/debit.pdf) explains your rights and what to do if you have a problem with a demand draft or remotely created check.
Know Your Financial Institution!
Do you know what’s going on at your financial institution? Who sets the policies? Determines the interest rates? Making the profit? Why do they offer some products and not others? How can you voice your opinion?
At your credit union, every product or service is carefully researched before implementation to determine whether the benefit will outweigh the cost. If there is a product currently not offered, it may be either there has not been enough member interest or the overall cost is prohibitive. As the elected Board of Directors sets the policies, determines the rates, and makes the decisions governing the credit union, they take care to protect the members’ interest. Each member is an owner, and the profit is split among the owners in the form of dividends.
Newsletters, office staff, and annual meetings are good sources of information. Most credit union newsletters are filled with all kinds of useful information including products, rates, volunteers, staff, and statistics. If you have questions, the office staff is well versed in the operations of the credit union.
An annual membership meeting is held to meet the volunteers, vote for the Board, voice your opinion, and ask questions. Participate – it’s your credit union.