ODP Manager Letters as Needed

The hosted ODP Manager software uses information from a daily extract file to determine when Collection letters should be sent to overdrawn accounts and which Custom letters should be sent to accounts when overdraft limits are assigned, or accounts opt in for Reg E. In addition to the Collection and Custom Letter functionality, the software also allows users the flexibility to send Ad Hoc letters as needed. These letters don’t rely on an account event to be triggered so users are not limited to criteria included in the daily extract file.

If you close and charge off an account before the standard number of days overdrawn, you will need to be able to generate an Account Closed letter. Or you may have ODP related letters that you send in specific situations other than those covered by the standard letter templates. You can even use Ad Hoc letters to generate your Fresh Start Loan agreements. Rather than creating letters manually, you can have Strunk set them up as Ad Hoc letter templates in the ODP Manager software.

If a user has a list of accounts that need to receive the specific letter, an Ad Hoc letter can be generated using the template, and sent to the customer. When you need to generate the letter, just enter the account number and the letter will pre-fill with the information from the software – name, address, and any other relevant fields. Letters can be generated one account at a time, or multiple account numbers at once. Once the letter has been generated, ODP Manager tracks and retains the letter just like your Collection and Custom letters.

Please contact Strunk Support at support@strunkaccess.com with any questions or to find out more details about using ODP Manager’s Ad Hoc letters.

The risks of working with vendors that have been sanctioned by the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC)

Do you understand the risks of working with vendors who have been sanctioned by the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC)? How does this affect the way you manage your vendors?

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is known as OFAC. OFAC is in charge of managing economic and trade sanctions as part of the U.S. government’s effort to implement anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism funding laws. These sanctions are aimed at nations, people, or organizations who have participated in dishonorable behavior. In other words, they maintain a list of people and organizations that you should avoid doing business with. Because OFAC imposes trade and economic sanctions on foreign people and organizations that employ cyberattacks to endanger American foreign policy, national security, or financial stability, it has a strong following among security and risk management experts.

It is important to track your vendor’s OFAC report because it is yet another tool in the arsenal of law enforcement to prevent cybercrime. Here are a few pointers will help you get started:

  • Make sure to always verify key fundamental aspects to make sure you’re doing business with a legitimate vendor.
  • Perform an OFAC check on any new vendor you start a relationship with.
  • Include this check in your initial due diligence procedure and ongoing reevaluations.
  • Examine contracts to make sure that the necessary clauses are present.

Not only is it a good idea, but you should start doing an OFAC check on your vendors. For more information on Strunk’s Vendor Manager solution, contact us at info@strunkaccess.com

Thirty Years of Overdraft Privilege

In 1993 Strunk began their Overdraft Privilege program which was designed to save consumers money and help banks become more operationally efficient. Thirty years later many banks continue to provide the service and their customers appreciate the program.

When a small business or consumer has a written a check or debit on their account that exceeds the account balance a bank can either pay the item taking the account negative or return or deny the transaction at point of sale. In either case the bank typically charges the same whether they pay it or return it…about $25-$35 based on the bank’s pricing schedule.

When a check is returned and a bank levies a fee the only thing this causes is havoc for most consumers. The check was written to pay a mortgage or rent, make a car payment, or to pay for groceries or prescription drugs. If the bank returns the non sufficient fund item it could cause the customer to have bad credit, get thrown out of their rental, not being able to take the food home to their family or pay for the much needed drugs from the pharmacy. These are real life situations and in each case the retailer or merchant charges a fee for that returned item…typically $35-$50 per item. Can’t think of anyone who would want a bank to return the check, can you?

If someone is using a debit card to buy something (as debit card transactions have become more prevalent in the past decade) the bank simply denies the transaction at point of sale if the purchase will overdraw their account. I doubt if anyone wants to put the groceries back on the shelf.

Overdraft Privilege is a win-win situation. Consumers get to take whatever they purchased home and the bank’s operations department doesn’t have to decide who to pay and who to return the overdraft on.

Contact Strunk at info@strunkaccess.com to learn more about how Overdraft Privilege can benefit your bank and your customers.

Give ODP Customers a Fresh Start using ODP Manager

A Fresh Start Repayment Plan is a tool available to overdrawn customers that will allow them to repay the overdrawn balance in up to 4 payments and will also allow them to retain the use of their checking account. It also may help financial institutions recover and collect on accounts which may have otherwise charged off.

ODP Manager collection letters advise customers that have overdrawn balances of $100 or more that they may be able to pay back the overdraft balance in up to four installments rather than the entire balance at once. Interested customers are then assessed to determine the customer’s ability to qualify and repay the Fresh Start.

With each approved Fresh Start repayment plan, ODP Manager users can enter a repayment schedule for each account. The repayment schedule can be used to populate the Fresh Start Agreement or users can also populate the FS Agreement directly as an Ad Hoc Letter. The repayment schedule includes reminders that display when a FS payment is due. When the payment is due, ODP Manager users can check the core system to confirm if the payment has been made as agreed. Once verified, Fresh Start payments can also be tracked in ODP Manager.

If a customer’s Fresh Start payment is not paid as agreed (ten or more days past due), the Fresh Start is in default and the checking account should be closed and charged off. The Fresh Start Default letter in ODP Manager can be generated to notify the customer that the account has been closed, charged off, and reported to the appropriate agencies.

If any other Fresh Start letters are needed for accounts in a repayment status, an Ad Hoc letter template can be created. By entering the deposit account number, ODP Manager will pre-fill the account information. After the letter is generated, it will be tracked and retained in ODP Manager just like the other Collection and Custom letters.

ODP Manager includes two types of Fresh Start reporting. The Fresh Start Tracking report displays a list of all checking accounts currently under a Fresh Start repayment plan with a Fresh Start ODP Status code. If details are needed about current repayment schedules, a Repayment Schedule summary report can also be exported to PDF or Excel.

Please contact Strunk Support at support@strunkaccess.com with any questions or to find out more details about ODP Manager’s Fresh Start Repayment Plan features.

Understanding your critical vendors

Knowing who your most crucial vendors are, also known as your most significant vendors, is a fundamental element of a risk-based vendor management program. The idea that a “critical vendor” and a “high-risk vendor” are interchangeable is a prevalent misconception. When establishing your program, it’s crucial to distinguish between the two because they are not the same thing.

Not only is it a smart practice, but many industries have regulations requiring you to identify your critical vendors. Despite minor differences in definitions among regulatory agencies, critical vendors do have a few traits in common that are always relevant:

· The product or service provided by the vendor is vital for your day to day operations.

· If the vendor doesn’t deliver the goods or service as specified, it will have a significant impact on your business or your customers.

When interacting with your critical vendors, exercise caution. Avoid taking shortcuts since they could leave hidden or unaddressed risks that could jeopardize the security of your business.

However, regardless of how important they are to your business’ operations, a high-risk vendor poses a higher amount of danger to your business. A typical illustration is a vendor who handles, keeps, or has access to your non-public data. The fact that these vendors have access to your data makes them more dangerous, but the services they actually offer might not be vital to your business.

Knowing your own key activities clearly is the first step in defining which vendors are critical and which vendors are high risk. To prevent serious threats to your business it is important to identify who your critical vendors are and what role they play inside of the company’s operations. Critical vendors are essential to your business’s day-to-day operations despite their dangers. You’ll build a strong and enduring partnership by exercising diligence and adhering to the greatest vendor risk management techniques.

Is your bank prepared to offer Digital Lending to your customers?

Digital banking has been around for years on the deposit side of the house but most banks don’t have a solution to make installment loans quickly and profitably. Fintech’s and other financial services providers have eaten our lunch when it comes to consumer lending since credit cards became a prevalent method for paying for purchases in the late 1970’s.

Quilo has developed an easy to use yet sophisticated digital lending solution that enables banks to make profitable consumer loans in seconds…rather than days. The solution allows each bank to use their underwriting criteria and set a limit on how much credit they want to extend and for how long.

Most Quilo banks are setting maximum limits at $35K and only for those who have an excellent credit history. Minimum credit criteria is usually set for no lower than a 670 credit score and loan amounts can be tiered based on credit score and the banks appetite for risk. For instance: those with a credit score of 670-720 can get a loan for no more than $5K; credit scores of 721-770 will max out at a $15K loan; and consumers with a 671 credit score or higher can get a $35K loan. Maximum term might be 24 months on the low end and 60 months on the high end. This is just one example of how a bank can set up their Quilo portfolio.

Take 45 minutes to see the demo of Quilo by contacting Strunk at info@strunkaccess.com.

Strunk’s Document Library and Customizable Letter Options

Access to a document library that includes Strunk’s recommended, compliant letters and policies is included with Strunk’s hosted ODP Manager software. Users can log in and review the recommended documents and compare them to letters currently set up in the ODP Manager software.

The hosted software makes it easy to log in and review active letter templates, even if you do not have any letters due. When you view the Collection, Custom, or Ad Hoc letter template, a sample PDF of the letter displays automatically using one of the accounts imported from your daily extract file. The PDF can be printed or saved so that you can easily compare it to Strunk’s recommended templates in the software Library. ODP Admins are able to make any necessary changes to letter templates or can request that updates are made by Strunk Technical Support.

Though Strunk provides the recommended letter content there are also customizable letter template options which will allow you to update the letter appearance to match other letters sent by your institution.

Header and footer information can be set up in ODP Manager to allow users to print on plain paper instead of letterhead. The hosted software also includes the flexibility to store signatures for each of your users. The signatures would then print automatically when the letter is generated – no need to sign letters! The same signature can be set up for all letters or the signature can change based on the user generating the letters, the letter type, or the letter template.

ODP Manager can update the contact name or phone number displayed on letters based on the account’s assigned branch. This allows you to provide your customers with the most appropriate contact information – whether customers contact a central location or their local branch to discuss the Overdraft Privilege program.

Please contact Strunk Support at support@strunkaccess.com with any questions or to find out more about the software Library or letter template options.

 

CFPB Guidance: Surprise Overdraft Fees and Returned Check Fees Explained

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published guidance on October 26, 2022, stating that “surprise overdraft fees” and “returned deposited item fees” generally constitute “unfair practices” in violation of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Act when consumers are unable to avoid them. In its analysis, the CFPB underlined that an act or practice is illegally unfair when it significantly harms consumers or is likely to do so, harm that consumers cannot reasonably be expected to avoid, and (ii) harm that is not outweighed by advantages to consumers or to competition.

The guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (Circular 2022-06) focuses on “unanticipated” overdraft fees, or those resulting from activities that a consumer would not ordinarily anticipate an overdraft fee. The guidance focuses on debit card transactions in which the available amount appears to be sufficient when the consumer initiates the transaction but is insufficient when the transaction is settled, resulting in an overdraft fee. According to the guidance, consumers may readily check their available balance via mobile apps, the internet, ATMs, or their phone, so they shouldn’t fairly anticipate paying an overdraft fee in this circumstance.

In addition, the guidance states a consumer is likely to reasonably expect that if a debit card transaction is authorized at the point of sale, he or she will not later incur an overdraft fee. The guidance notes that consumers cannot reasonably be expected to understand and account for delays between authorization and payment, nor can they control the methods by which a financial institution settles other transactions that could affect the imposition of overdraft fees. The guidance concludes that the injury from unanticipated overdraft fees likely is not outweighed by any countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.

According to the CFPB’s guidance (Circular 2022-06), practices that charge consumers flat fees for all transactions, regardless of the specifics of the transaction or patterns on the account, are probably unjust. Since a depositor typically has no influence over whether a deposited check will be paid or not and has no reason to anticipate that a placed check will be returned, the guideline emphasizes that consumers are not reasonably able to avoid such costs.

According to the guidance, returned deposited item costs harm consumers significantly and are not likely to be offset by advantages to consumers or to competition. It’s crucial to remember that the guidance focuses on financial institution policies that broadly impose returned deposited item fees in situations where consumers are unaware that checks may be returned. The guidance states that policies with fines that are intended to deter consumer conduct, such as frequently depositing faulty checks from the same originator or depositing checks that are not signed, are not in violation of the rule.

The good news is neither of these issues should prohibit any FI from keeping their ODP program in place! However, action must be taken to avoid both of these specific instances.

The CFPB is not offering a resolution for either of these issues via disclosure. Nor are they providing a time frame within which to achieve compliance. In fact, they are saying that transaction processing rules are often complex so regardless of disclosure it isn’t reasonable for consumers to necessarily understand how the process works. So, the only resolution for ‘authorize positive, settle negative’ is to stop doing it if that is how your transactions are processed today. Sadly, the CFPB has not yet issued a Rule mandating core processors to add the necessary capability to prevent charging a fee for an item allowed on “good funds.” In addition, some core processors may postpone the creation of the module (or patch), which eliminates the regulatory risk, in the absence of such a regulatory mandate. This will still fall on the financial institution to put controls in place to prevent charging these fees.

The solution on the returned deposit item fee appears relatively simple – if you charge a returned deposit item fee today – stop. The CFPB does offer some guidance on certain circumstances where changing that fee may be reasonable – for example, if a depository institution only charges consumers a fee if they repeatedly deposit bad checks from the same originator, or only charges consumers a fee when checks are unsigned, those fees would likely be reasonably avoidable by the consumer. However, my take on that is it really isn’t worth trying to monitor the specific reasons the fee was charged in each instance. Far easier to just not charge the fee and be sure to avoid the regulatory criticism. Returned deposit item fees really don’t have anything to do with ODP so we’re not familiar with the instance of occurrence, but I assume these fees don’t add up to much for the typical community institution.

Strunk’s recommendations have continued to include clearer wording and open information regarding how fees are calculated. We have actively helped community banks and credit unions address the problems mentioned in the bureau’s advice throughout the years. Strunk often receive feedback from clients regarding issues raised during their examinations. Additionally, we stay in contact with the state and national banking associations’ legal counsel on topics related to overdraft protections to make sure we stay in front of any issues for our clients.

 

Overdraft Protection Programs?

Several federal regulators have recently come up with “guidance” on how banks should handle the payment of debits that cause overdrafts and whether or not a fee should be levied against the account.

In August the FDIC warned banks that proper disclosure of charging a fee for an item presented a second time is important so that consumers understand that there can be more than one NSF charge on the same item. Even though banks have had the same practice for decades the FDIC is now warning banks of possible UDAAP violations.

More recently the CFPB wants banks to ensure they are not charging a fee for a debit card transaction that causes an overdraft when the item hits the books when it was previously approved at point of sale. Also, banks are warned to not charge consumers a fee for a deposited item that comes back to the account as a NSF item. It is yet to be seen what impact this will have on community banks but this “guidance” from the regulatory body covering banks with over $10B in assets should be reviewed by your bank.

Strunk’s Overdraft Privilege program is nearing its 30th year of existence and it remains a tremendous customer service for those who need it. Returning items unpaid to a merchant only creates havoc for consumers. Likewise, if a consumer wants their debit card transaction paid rather than denied at point of sale Overdraft Privilege can help out. Consumer choice is how banking should work. Providing proper disclosure and ensuring the bank follows the disclosures is key.

Contact Strunk at 800.728.3116 or at support@strunkaccess.com to learn more about how Overdraft Privilege can benefit your bank and your customers.

Strunk at the Western Bankers Lenders & Chief Credit Officers Conference 2022

This week the Western Bankers Association hosted its annual Lenders & Chief Credit Officers Conference. Strunk was excited to attend and to present Quilo, a digital installment loan solution directed at consumers.

The three day event was hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and was packed full of content for bankers. The agenda included sessions on “Growing Your Small Business Lending Program”, “Innovating through Digital Transformation”, “Loan Growth Through Technology and Automation” and a Legislative Update from Ken Gould, EVP with the California Bankers Association.

Strunk’s CEO, Dan Roderick, was pleased to present and demo Quilo during the Digital Consumer Lending session. Quilo is a fully turn-key FinTech consumer installment loan program that will allow your bank to compete in the world of digital lending. Quilo includes the ability to direct deposit funds to your account holders’ checking accounts for quick and easy access to funds.

Technology has changed the market for installment loans and Quilo can put community banks on the path to high loan growth and increased profitability. Quilo is a game changer. Utilizing the latest in technology, Quilo creates the opportunity to insert community banks in the middle of this quickly growing segment.

Bankers were enthusiastic about the solution and we look forward to continued conversations with many of the conference attendees. If your bank is interested in growing your loan portfolio and improving your margin, let us show you how Quilo can make that happen.