Overdraft Privilege Provides a Solution for Charging Multiple NSF Fees

When a merchant transaction is presented for payment from a consumer account and is refused due to the customer’s insufficient funds to cover the transaction, financial institutions typically charge an NSF fee. When a merchant tries to present the same transaction again in order to recover the denied funds, he or she may be charged a re-presentment NSF fee. If a depository institution receives this type of repeated merchant payment transaction more than once, the depository institution may levy multiple NSF fees. If an Automated Clearing House (ACH) or other item is presented for payment and is denied owing to insufficient funds, certain financial institutions will levy an NSF fee for both the original presentment and each subsequent representation.

In recent class action lawsuits against financial institutions, the removal of key clauses pertaining to the assessment of representation fees was considered to be a violation of contract. Some lawsuits have been settled, with customers receiving refunds and legal fees.  Additionally, state, and federal financial regulators are reviewing DDA agreements searching for potential legal, regulatory and UDAP risks. With these potential risks it is important to review your deposit disclosures and contract language to ensure the way NSF fees are charged is being communicated clearly and consistent to what a consumer could reasonably expect.

This is a great time to make sure that you review your accounts and all of your customers/members that are eligible for Overdraft Privilege should be added to the ODP program unless they have opted out of the program.  By doing this it will minimize your risk for NSF fees being represented, because if your customers/members have an Overdraft limit their items will be considered for payment instead of returned.  Paying the item instead of returning it will ensure that the financial institution minimizes its risk for NSF re-presentments because the item is not returned.  Also, overdraft privilege provides a better service to your customers/members because they will not be faced with potential late fees, retailer fees and damage to their credit from returned items.

Accept Electronic Consent to Opt In for Regulation E

ODP Manager helps you distribute your Consent Form for Overdraft Services to your customers that have not already opted in for Reg E by including the opt in form with Welcome letters, Reinstatement letters, and the Reg E Opt-in Followup letter. This makes it easy for customers that would like to opt in by mail, but there are three other methods for a customer to opt in: in person, by phone, or electronically. The Reg E opt in form will direct your customers to the appropriate mailing address, phone number to call, or to visit a branch, but are you prepared to accept an electronic response?

ODP Manager includes a feature which can assist you in obtaining your customer’s electronic consent to opt in to ODP coverage for ATM and everyday debit card transactions. Strunk can create a Reg E opt in form and Reg E opt out form that mirrors the content in your ODP Manager letters. You would then add links to these forms to your website.

When your customer visits your website and completes either the Consent Form for Overdraft Services or the Consent to Opt-Out, they will receive an email confirmation of their Reg E election. Also, this response will be tracked in ODP Manager and can be emailed to a designated email address at your financial institution.

Your ODP Manager users will review the new responses in ODP Manager, export a list of accounts that need an update to their Reg E election, and perform the appropriate maintenance in your core software – updating the account record to either opt in or opt out the customer’s requested account. By default, the hosted ODP Manager software displays new responses that have not been reviewed and exported. Prior submissions are also retained to allow your users to review previous responses.

If you would like to set up ODP Manager to accept electronic consent to opt in for Overdraft Privilege coverage for ATM and everyday debit card transactions, please contact Strunk Support at support@strunkaccess.com with any questions or to find out more.

The Importance of Employee Training for your Overdraft Program

Does your front-line staff have a biased opinion regarding overdraft privilege and present it in a negative tone?  Is your front-line staff having a hard time explaining overdraft privilege to your customers/members and not really sure what to say to them? If you haven’t had a chance to listen to your employees’ present overdraft privilege to your customers/members, especially Reg. E, Strunk recommends doing it now.  Your staff should explain overdraft privilege and its options to your customers/members in a clear, consistent, compliant, and impartial way.

Sometimes front-line employees do not understand the true benefits overdraft privilege can provide to the customer/member.  Some employees often have a bad perception of overdraft privilege because they associate it with disgruntled or confused account holders. This misunderstanding is one of the main reasons why overdraft privilege training and education are so important!  It is important to provide your employees with a script on how to present overdraft privilege and the benefits of opting into Reg. E. Employees that have practiced and memorized a customer/member-focused overdraft privilege and Reg. E script, ensure that the approach is compliant, succinct, and easy to grasp.

Using the technique of allowing the customer to choose how the financial institution should manage a transaction that would overdraw the customers/members account before the due date ensures their happiness and loyalty.  Strunk’s Overdraft Privilege training will provide a clear understanding of the overdraft program and provide consistent talking points to your employees.  After overdraft privilege training your employees will be equipped with correct and thorough knowledge regarding your program.  Strunk will ensure your employees are equipped with a non-biased, clear and compliant script that provides account holders accurate information so they can make the best decision possible for their situation.  Overdraft privilege training will increase your employees’ confidence as a result of this approach, which will boost their performance, productivity, and level of service to your customers/members.


Following Up with Frequent Overdraft Privilege Users

Financial institutions are expected to monitor excessive consumer Overdraft Privilege usage to inform customers of additional available options for overdraft protection. These options could be an Overdraft Protection Credit Line or an Overdraft Protection Transfer from another account with the financial institution.

FDIC regulated institutions are expected to give customers who overdraw their accounts on more than six occasions where a fee is charged in a rolling twelve-month period a reasonable opportunity to choose a less costly alternative and decide whether to continue with fee-based overdraft coverage. Strunk also recommends that institutions not regulated by the FDIC also communicate available alternatives to ODP on an annual basis to accounts with insufficient funds items.

ODP Manager can assist with sending letters advising your customers of the alternatives to Overdraft Privilege. If the ODP Manager import file includes data from the core system that indicates when an account has qualified for the letter by exceeding the threshold, the hosted software can automatically show when a letter is due to be sent. If the data is unable to be added to the extract file but qualifying accounts can be identified from an existing core report or other method, a letter can be generated, as needed, as an Ad Hoc letter.

Once the letter is generated, the letter is tracked and retained within the ODP Manager application.

Please contact Strunk Support at support@strunkaccess.com with any questions or to find out more about using ODP Manager’s Excessive Use Notification letter.

ODP Manager Account History

One major benefit of the hosted ODP Manager software is access to the software’s advanced history tracking. Key account events are tracked in the system and are searchable.

When the daily extract file from the core system is imported into ODP Manager, significant account status changes are tracked. Is the account newly overdrawn or now in good standing? Has an overdraft limit been added to or removed from the account? Has the consumer opted their account in to or out of ATM and everyday debit card transaction coverage according to Regulation E? Has the account been closed? These items are all tracked and retained in each individual account’s history.

When a user generates a collection, custom, or ad hoc letter, not only is the letter type, description, and date recorded, but also a PDF of the letter is saved and linked to the account history and the event history. All letters are stored within the application and can be regenerated at any time.

If a user needs to make further contributions to the account record, a comment or reminder can be created. Notes can be saved to the account as a comment. Reminders can be created for follow-up items with a specific due date. Both comments and reminders are accessible to all users and can include attachments.

Searching for events can be done for an individual account or across a range of dates. Individual account information is easily exported to PDF. Events occurring during a specified timeframe can be filtered and exported to Excel.

Please contact Strunk Support at support@strunkaccess.com with any questions or to find out more about ODP Manager’s advanced event history tracking.

ICBA Live Winner of the Banker’s Choice Award 2022: QUILO

Strunk team members were thrilled to once again, be a part of the Independent Community Bankers Association’s biggest event, ICBA Live, hosted this year is San Antonio. This year, Strunk was proud to be a part of the team that introduced Quilo to the ICBA. In addition, Strunk was able to highlight their overdraft service and best-in-class governance, risk and compliance solution.

Quilo has been selected to be a part of the ICBA’s ThinkTECH Accelerator program, a community bank-focused fintech accelerator run in partnership with The Venture Center. The highlight of the ICBA Live event was certainly Quilo winning the ICBA’s Banker’s Choice Award for 2022!

Digital technology should be a top priority and Quilo is the #1 solution on the market – an all-digital loan and payment platform empowering community financial institutions to offer POS financing directly to account holders.

Quilos can be used for new purchases online or in store, to pay down credit card balances, or to replenish a checking account for debit card purchases. Account holders will experience stress-free, instant access to funds via the digital experience online and on mobile devices, while CFIs will enjoy net income up to 5% ROA.

If you have not had the chance to take a look at Quilo yet, now is the time!

To learn more please visit https://strunkaccess.com/landing-pages/quilo/

The consumer case for overdraft privilege

The last few years lawmakers have put extensive focus on overdraft privilege programs and are pushing for additional guidance on the way financial institutions handle overdrafts. It seems that the lawmakers that are pushing for changes only have one way of looking at overdraft privileges, so The American Bankers Association (ABA) wrote a response to the two overdraft research reports that the CFPB issued on December 1, 2021 with some additional data.

First, lawmakers have pushed the narrative that consumers do not want overdraft privilege and that the CFPB constantly gets complaints regarding overdrafts.  The facts show that in 2020 less than 0.15% of CFPB complaints were related to overdrafts.  The ABA reports found that 90% of adults find their bank’s overdraft protection valuable and that 23% of consumers intentionally overdraw their account to cover expenses. A Morning Consult study found that ½ of Americans think overdraft fees are fair and Curinos research found that 62% of consumers would reconsider their support for new regulation of overdraft if it limited access to the service.

Additionally, lawmakers believe that overdraft fees are not fair and are very expensive for consumers.  The ABA reports show that 62% of adults state overdraft fees are reasonable while only 21% state that overdraft fees are unreasonable.  Also, in the ABA report it states that 72% of adults were happy their payments were covered. The CFPB and lawmakers believe that low income consumers suffer the consequence of overdraft fees more than those who are financially comfortable by a large margin. The recent ABA report found that 25% of adults say they have paid an overdraft fee in the past year and that consumers across income brackets are equally likely to have paid an overdraft in the past year.  Post-grads are more likely to overdraw their account than regular college degree or those without a college degree.  According to an article that Indeed posted in 2021, employees who have a post-grad degree make well over double than that of an employee who only has a high school diploma.  The ABA reports found that lower-income households (<$24k annual deposits) avg 10 items paid into overdrafts annually versus 18 items for consumers in the highest income stratum (>$60k annual deposits).  Another point that the ABA report highlights is that lower-income consumers receive more fee waivers and refunds than higher-income consumers.

Before any new regulations around overdraft privilege are done, lawmakers need to look at the economic impact that such action will cause.  Currently overdraft users realize an economic benefit of over 7 to 1, providing annual stimulus to the economy of $65.6B.  Without overdraft privilege consumers lose $443 in purchasing power for each returned check or ACH transaction.  Some larger financial institutions have made changes to their overdraft privilege programs due to fear of potential changes in the regulation and because of competition.  The banks that have already announced changes are expecting hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.  How will these financial institutions make up for this loss of revenue – will they increase other fees or will they have to decrease staffing to meet stockholders’ expectations? Only time will tell.

Strunk at the ABA’s Conference for Community Bankers 2022

For the first time in two years, the American Bankers Association hosted the Conference for Community Bankers in person February 20-22. Strunk’s associates were pleased to see old faces and new and to gather in the beautiful location of Palm Desert, California.

There were many engaging sessions offered, with a focus on community banks establishing use of Fintech solutions to remain competitive. In addition to highlighting their overdraft service and best-in-class governance, risk and compliance solution, Strunk introduced Quilo to this audience for the first time. Quilo is an all-digital loan and payment platform for community banks to offer POS financing direct to their account holders.

Quilos can be used for new purchases online or in store, to pay down credit card balances, or to replenish a checking account for debit card purchases. Banks can also set up alternative payment technology among their merchant clients as an additional revenue stream.

Customers will experience stress-free, instant access to funds via the digital experience online and on mobile devices, while banks will achieve an ROA up to 5%. ABA member banks were excited to learn about this new program that is truly a win-win for account holders and bankers alike.

For more information on Quilo, visit https://strunkaccess.com/landing-pages/quilo/.

Tracking Charge-Off Items and Recoveries

ODP Manager is updated daily, through the extract file import process, with the current information from the core processor; however, your users may benefit from some of the hosted software’s manual tracking features to monitor other data as well.

If your users need a better tool to manage the charge-off and recovery process after the deposit account has been closed, the Charge-Off Items and Recoveries feature included in ODP Manager may be helpful.

Once an account has charged off, you can create a charge-off item to track the charged off principal and fees. Notes can be added when the item is created or throughout the recovery process. Updates and changes are also logged. When recoveries are made, they should be entered in ODP Manager, reducing the overall balance tracked.

To monitor the overall status of charge-offs and recoveries, a summary screen displays basic charge-off information and status. By default, ODP Manager displays the Charge Off Items for the last year, but a different timeframe can be selected by specifying a start date and an end date. For reporting purposes, the charge-off item summary can be exported as a PDF.

Please contact Strunk Support at support@strunkaccess.com with any questions or to find out more about using this feature.

Overdraft Protection In a New Light

Over the past year, there has been a great deal of scrutiny surrounding overdraft privilege programs. Many news articles focus on the potential negative aspects of overdraft privilege programs. They make the generalization that users of these programs are not sufficiently educated on what usage truly means and that users are typically lower-income.

A 2019 survey from Fiserv shows that 91% of consumers report that they are familiar with their financial institution’s overdraft policy. Strunk has historically stated that clear communication with consumers regarding key elements of the financial institution’s overdraft privilege program is not only important from a compliance perspective, it will also improve program performance. This allows consumers to be more familiar with the program features and limits.

A research paper published by The American Bankers Association provides statistics that show the inconsistencies in data that most articles use characterizing heavy overdraft users as lower-income consumers. The paper states that lower-income households (<$24,000 annual deposits) averaged 10 items paid into overdraft annually vs 18 items for consumers in the highest income level (>$60,000 annual deposits). Lower-income account holders receive more fee waivers and refunds than higher-income consumers and paid lower effective average overdraft charges. Either way, this study shows that consumers of all income categories utilize overdraft programs.

Another argument commonly made in regards to overdraft programs is that consumers find the fees unfair. A common example given that usually describes an overdraft activity is a consumer might buy a $2 cup of coffee and get hit with a $35 fee. In reality, the average size of a purchase that triggers an overdraft fee has nearly quadrupled from $50 to almost $200 in recent years. It is simply not accurate that consumers are getting charged for small purchases. Additionally, a Morning Consult study found that about half of Americans think overdraft fees are fair.

A study by Curinos research found that more than 60% of overdrafts come from consumers who intend to use the service. Likewise, more than 80% of overdraft transactions come from consumers who opted-in to debit card overdraft transactions (Regulation E) with the clear intention of using it to cover their payments. Furthermore, two-thirds of consumers indicate that, while overdraft can be expensive, they don’t want to see reductions in their access to the service or limits. This indicates that consumers understand that if they overdraw their account, having the financial institution pay the overdraft item for them and charge them a fee is a greater benefit to them than returning that item and still charging the consumer a fee. This prevents the consumer from having to pay additional fees to the retailer and potential re-presentment fees.

Less than .15% of complaints to the CFPB were related to overdraft privilege in 2020. Overdraft privilege programs give consumers services that they need and want while also giving them options, which is best for all consumers.