Last month in Defeat Debt we discussed Check 21. This month we’ll take a look
at e-checks. And yes, Virginia, they are different.
Electronic check conversion, or an e-check is a one-time debit made from your checking
account. You may be asked for information from your check, for example: bank routing
number, checking account number, check number, and so on, to process your payment
by electronic withdrawal through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network.
Yes, that’s the same system through which Credit Advisors receives your monthly
electronic funds transfers (EFT) for your debt management program. So it’s
clear...with electronic check conversion your check itself is no longer the method
They have to tell you.
Federal law, The Electronic Fund Transfer Act and the Federal Reserve Board’s
Regulation E requires that you be notified that information from your check may
be used to make an electronic payment from your account. This notification can take
many forms. For example, the notification could be in the terms and conditions of
a bill or on the statement itself, for a mailed check. A retailer may notify you
with a notice in writing at the time of purchase or over the register at the point
of sale. Some may have you sign a statement acknowledging that your check may be
converted. You may also find that companies that take your payment by phone or over
the Internet will notify you at the time of the transaction.
You can opt out.
Some companies may give you a choice if you ask. (Especially now that Check 21 is
in place). With others, your only choice may be choosing another type of payment,
i.e. debit card, credit card or cash.
You may or may not receive your check back.
If you mail your check and it is converted, the original check must be destroyed
within 14 days. At the retailer, the clerk may ask you for your check (blank, partially
completed or fully completed), process it through a machine, mark the check void
or processed and hand it back to you.
The transaction will be listed on your bank statement.
While the specific check (number) used should not be used again, it will list on
your statement, but it may not list with your other checks (those that were not
converted). The transaction may list on your statement as an ACH transaction. In
such a situation, the transaction will provide you with name of the company (rather
than just the check number), the payment amount, and date.
How will this affect you?
The impact of electronic check conversion will be similar to the effects of Check
21. There may be no "float time" for your check. In other words, if you write a
check today, make sure you have funds in your account today. Otherwise, the potential
for bounced checks will increase dramatically. As a smart consumer, you are aware
of the fees and charges connected to bounced checks, as well as the damage such
a miscalculation can do to your credit record. If you have such concerns, investigate
your bank’s policies and charges for connecting a savings account to your
checking account, or overdraft protection. Remember, although the check may be paid,
you may be charged for these services and the overall cost should be compared to
the cost (both monetary and to your reputation) for insufficient funds checks.
What if an error is made?
As always, check your bank statement immediately upon receipt. Don’t delay.
In most situations you have sixty days from when the statement was sent to you (note:
not when you receive it). Once you notify your financial institution, they
may take as much as forty-five days to investigate.
What about identity theft or unauthorized electronic transactions?
If, when examining your statement, you suspect an unauthorized transaction, notify
your financial institution immediately. According to the FTC if you report to your
financial institution within two business days, your loss will be limited to $50.
If you wait longer, say over sixty days, you could lose all the money in your account
and any unused portion of the maximum line of credit you have for overdrafts. Ouch!
In addition, the FTC recommends keeping track of all deposits, withdrawals, checks
and ACH transactions from your account and balancing your check book, while watching
for duplicate transactions. They also suggest using caution when sharing your account
information, especially over the phone, unless you initiate the contact or know
whom you’re dealing with. (If you need to file a complaint, contact the FTC
at www.ftc.gov or toll free at
Finally, the Federal Reserve has some suggestions for consumers as well. Before
you agree to electronic check conversion, you should first ask yourself:
Everyone has special ways they’ve discovered to save a little dough during
the holidays, while keeping the spirit and intent of the season alive.
Sometimes these ideas can make the holidays even more special for you, your family
What are yours?
Send them in!
Send Michaela, our program director, your money saving, budget friendly holiday
ideas. Everything from entertaining on a shoestring, gift giving, decorating, or
holiday travel and we’ll publish them in the December Defeat Debt.
Write to: Credit Advisors,
1850 South 72nd Street
Omaha, NE 68124 or
Email to: email@example.com
The Word Search challenge this month: find the words from the article The Real Story
- Electronic Check Conversion, listed below:
Celebrated for more than 30 years, National Family Week is held the week of Thanksgiving.
It provides everyone opportunities to honor the connections that support and strengthen
families, connections both within families and from families to their communities.
That’s why the theme is Connections Count.
Who are the special people and organizations that help your family? Perhaps it’s
a grandmother or neighbor who watches the kids during the workweek, a placement
center that helped you find a new job, a community leader who helped get a new park
built in your neighborhood, or elected officials who advocate for family-friendly
Events and activities are being coordinated nationwide for National Family Week.
Check out www.nationalfamilyweek.org
to find out what’s happening in your area.
The following are easy ways to celebrate National Family Week with your family:
Don’t be afraid of the list of ingredients for this dessert. Making it is
actually easy, and the taste is fabulous, evoking comforting images of hearth and
home on a late Autumn evening.
Coat a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl combine bread cubes, raisins, and currents. Set aside.
Using a small skillet, cook and stir butter until melted and browned. Place 1.4
cup of melted butter in large bowl and set aside remaining for butter sauce.
In same bowl with butter, beat in eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon,
cardamom, and coriander until combined. Pour over bread and fruit mixture and toss
until thoroughly coated.
Turn into prepared baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking dish on cookie sheet. Bake, uncovered,
45 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.
Remove from oven. Cool slightly and sprinkle with almonds.
Sauce: In a small bowl stir together the reserved browned butter, 2 cups sifted
powdered sugar, 2 Tablespoons milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until smooth.
Pass or top bread pudding with sauce when serving.
Makes 12 servings at 75 cents each.