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Processing Reg E Claims

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Question: 
We were recently told that the way we process Reg E claims (and have been since before I was here and never had an audit issue besides wording of a letter) is backwards. Here are the few scenarios that will tell me which is right. It's September 2019: 1. If a customer comes in and says they haven’t balanced their statement for 5 years and just realized that $14.99 has been being debited from their account by Amazon since March 2016. Can you tell me what amounts or for what time periods they are owed and for which months/years? 2. If the same scenario happened but the first charge was on April 10th of this year? Can you tell me what they are owed and for which months? 3. Last, if the customer comes in and says that he is balancing his statements for the past two years and found several different charges that are fraud: a. A cable bill that debited for two months after he revoked authorization in 2018. b. Amazon Prime debited monthly for 12 months from June 2018 to May 2019 and he never agreed to it. c. GEICO debited his account $113.00 when he hadn’t authorized it to debit his account for that payment in August 2019.
Answer: 

Reg E 1005.6(b)(3) states that the Bank is liable for transactions that occur between the date of the FIRST unauthorized charge and 60 days after the transmittal of the statement on which that FIRST charge appears. The customer is liable for all transactions AFTER that 60 day period elapses.

  1. The bank is liable for the March 2016 $14.99 and 60 days after the March 2016 statement (which probably means April and May 2016). The customer is liable for everything between June 2016 - September 2019.
  2. The bank is liable for the April 10, 2019 $14.99 and 60 days after the April statement (which probably means May and June 2019). The customer is liable for everything between July 2019 - September 2019.
  3. . § 1005.6(b) defines liability based on "an unauthorized transaction or a series of related transactions." The answer to your third question depends on whether or not the charges from the three merchants are 'related' (For example if a card were lost, stolen or compromised, then all fraudulent transactions could be considered related even if they are to different merchants because the source of the fraud is the same). However, in this case, since there are cancelled authorization, fraud, and a dispute with an insurance company, these do not appear to be related transactions so their timeframes must be considered separately.

    (a) If we conclude the transactions are unauthorized, the Bank would be liable for both since they occurred within 60 days of the date of the first unauthorized charge in 2018. (However, remember that the definition of an unauthorized electronic funds transfer is a transfer initiated without customer authorization and for which the customer received no benefit. If we conclude that the amount the customer owed the cable company was reduced by the amount of the payments, we can conclude that the customer received benefit and deny that portion of the claim.)

    (b) The bank is liable for the June 2018 charge and 60 days after the June 2018 statement (which probably means July and August 2018). The customer is liable for everything between September 2018 - September 2019.

    (c)The Bank is liable for the August 2019 $113.00 unless our Reg E investigation concludes that the transaction was unauthorized.

Also of note for these questions. The only claim that is considered 'timely' under Reg E 1005.11 is scenario 3(3). All others are late so the bank does not have to comply with the investigation timeframes of provisional credit or 45/90 days under that section. This means we can take some time if we file the cost/benefit is worth it to investigate, contact merchants, etc. to determine the legitimacy of the claim before crediting the customer.

First published on 10/13/2019

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