Overdraft Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Overdraft Privilege has been a staple for consumers for the past 27 years and paying items into overdraft status is better than returning them to the merchant or denying the consumer the ability to take home the groceries or prescription drugs.Given the recent circumstances our country is facing Strunk’s Overdraft Privilege program can help consumers and financial institutions get through these difficult times.
In ad hoc overdraft payment programs financial institutions decide to pay or not pay an overdrawn item and whether to charge a fee or not. These types of programs can be discriminatory and may lead to disparate treatment for some customers. In our formal overdraft privilege program those customers who are in the program want their items paid and they don’t mind paying you a fee. In essence you are saving them the return check charge from the merchant or the hassle and embarrassment of being denied at the point of sale.
Certainly there are times when waives or refunds are warranted. Make sure you have a documented policy that outlines the considerations to factor into the refund decision. Also, keep the authority to grant a refund as tight as possible – the more people with authority the greater chance of disparate treatment.
Strunk’s recommended Fresh Start Loan can be used as a tool to help consumers get back on their feet during financial hardships. If a consumer is unable to pay back an overdraft immediately we recommend allowing them to pay it back over four installments. The zero percent interest loan can be used at any time to help consumers pay back an overdraft over time rather than immediately like it is in most financial institutions.
Four installments could be weekly, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. Working with your customer to help them work out of a tight cash flow situation will strengthen the relationship and keep the negative information from affecting their credit score. More importantly, you will keep their checking account open under difficult times. Now more than ever, managing the day-to-day overdraft process as a line of business is a must and your customers will appreciate the service you are providing.