Frequently Asked Questions About Consumers’ Rights and Responsibilities Regarding Electronic Transaction Disputes
How do I dispute an electronic transaction?
If you believe your account has been subject to an incorrect, unauthorized, or unrecognized electronic fund transfer, you can ask the bank to investigate.
Contact your account officer or call us at 617-912-1900 to get started. You may also contact us in writing at Boston Private, Ten Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109.
What information will I be asked to provide?
For debit card or similar disputes/errors, be prepared to provide the following information:
- Your personally identifiable information (e.g., name, address, phone number, tax ID information)
- Account information (e.g., card number)
- Date of transaction
- Amount of transaction
- Merchant or business name
- Description of the dispute/error
- Any steps you took to resolve the dispute/error with the merchant
- Whether your card was in your possession at the time of the unauthorized transaction
- For fraudulent transactions, you will be asked to complete and sign our Affidavit of Fraudulent Transaction which can be accessed via the links below:
For remittance transfer errors, be prepared to provide the following information:
- Name and address of both the sender and recipient
- The date of the remittance transfer request
- Transfer amount
- Wire confirmation number (if applicable)
- The account number being debited for the transfer
- Description of the dispute/error
Is there a time limit or deadline for reporting errors?
This depends upon the type of transaction.
Lost or stolen cards/passwords
In order to limit your liability for the loss or theft of stolen cards or passwords, you must notify us within two business days after you learn of the loss or theft.
Transaction errors (unauthorized, incorrect amount, merchant errors)
If you identify a transaction error on your statement, such as an unauthorized and/or incorrect amount, you must notify us no later than 60 calendar days after we send you the FIRST statement on which the transaction error appears.
Remittance transfer errors (involving sending money from the U.S. to other countries)
Notice of a remittance transfer error, oral or written, within 180 days after the disclosed date of availability of the remittance transfer is considered to be timely. But if the notice of error is based on documentation, additional information, or clarification provided by us, then notice is timely if it is received within 60 days after we sent the documentation, additional information, or clarification that had been requested.
What is my liability for unauthorized transfers?
We do our best to protect you from liability related to unauthorized transfers, but there are instances when you may be held liable.
Lost or stolen cards/passwords – Based on the error notification requirements, you can lose no more than $50 should someone use your card or code without your permission, provided that you notify us within two business days after learning of the loss or theft. If you do NOT notify us within two business days, and we could have stopped someone from using your card or code without your permission if you had told us, you could lose as much as $500.
Transaction errors discovered on an account statement – Based on the error notification requirements, you are not liable for any losses if you notify us within 60 calendar days after the account statement showing the error was sent or made available to you. If you do NOT notify us within 60 calendar days after the account statement showing the error was sent or made available to you, and if we could have reasonably stopped losses to your account had you notified us of the error in time, you many not recover any money you lose after the 60 day period.
How long does an investigation take?
Once we receive your oral or written notice of error, we will investigate and try to resolve your dispute within 10 business days (or 5 business days for Visa Check Card purchases). If we are unable to achieve resolution within 10 business days, we may take an additional 45 days (or 90 days if the error applies to a point-of-sale transaction or a foreign-initiated transaction) to further investigate.
If additional time is required to investigate, we will provide a provisional credit to your account in the amount of the alleged error within 10 business days (or 5 business days for Visa Check Card purchases) of our receiving notice of your error.
If your oral or written notice of error occurred within 30 days after the first deposit to the account was made, we will investigate and try to resolve your dispute within 20 business days. If we are unable to achieve resolution within 20 business days, we may take an additional 90 days to further investigate.
If additional time is required to investigate, we will provide a provisional credit to your account in the amount of the alleged error within 20 business days of our receiving notice of your error.
Once we receive your oral or written notice of error, we will investigate and determine whether an error has occurred within 90 days. We will report the results to you within three business days after completing our investigation.
Is provisional credit considered permanent?
This depends on what we find. If our investigation confirms that an error did occur, we will send you a letter indicating the results and stating that your provisional credit will be considered permanent.
If we find an error did not occur, we will send you a letter outlining the results and stating the date on which the provisional credit will be removed from your account.
What consumer protection laws cover electronic transactions?
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) of 1978 protects individual consumers engaging in electronic fund transfers and remittance transfers. The EFTA is implemented through Regulation E, which outlines the steps that both consumers and financial institutions need to take to resolve a dispute or error.
What types of transactions are covered by Regulation E?
Electronic funds transfers and remittances transfers. Below are explanations and examples of each.
Electronic funds transfers (EFTs) are transfers of funds initiated through an electronic terminal, telephone, computer (including on-line banking) or magnetic tape for the purpose of ordering, instructing, or authorizing a financial institution to debit or credit a consumer’s account. EFTs include, but are not limited to:
- Point-of-sale (POS) transfers
- Automated teller machine (ATM) transfers
- Direct deposits or withdrawals of funds
- Transfers initiated by telephone
- Transfers resulting from debit card transactions
Remittance transfers are electronic transfers of funds requested by a consumer in a state to a designated recipient that is sent by a remittance transfer provider. The term applies whether or not the consumer holds an account and whether or not the transfer is an electronic fund transfer. Remittance transfers include:
- Transfers in cash or by another method conducted through a money transmitter or a financial institution.
- Consumer wire transfers conducted by a financial institution upon a sender’s request to wire money from the sender’s account to a designated recipient.
- International ACH transactions sent by the sender’s financial institution at the sender’s request.
- Online bill payments and other electronic transfers that a sender schedules in advance, including preauthorized remittance transfers, made by the sender’s financial institution at the sender’s request to a designated recipient.
What are the requirements for financial institutions under Regulation E?
Financial institutions must provide a summary of various consumer rights under the regulation, including the consumer’s liability for unauthorized EFTs, the types of EFTs the consumer may make, limits on transfer frequency or dollar amount, fees charged by the institution, and error-resolution procedures. These rights are documented in the Boston Private consumer disclosure that is given to clients when a deposit account is opened. These rights are also disclosed in ATM, Visa Check Card, and Online Banking applications and enrollment documents.
What common errors does Regulation E cover?
Common errors include:
- An unauthorized electronic funds transfer
- An incorrect electronic funds transfer to or from your account
- The omission of an electronic funds transfer from your account statement
- The receipt of an incorrect amount of money from an ATM
- An electronic funds transfer not properly identified and you do not recognize the transaction
- A request you make for documentation and/or for additional information/clarification concerning an electronic funds transfer, including a request you make to determine whether an error exists
Common remittance transfer errors include:
- Incorrect amount paid by you, the sender
- Incorrect amount received by the recipient
- Computational or bookkeeping error
- Failure to make funds available by date of availability
What is not considered an error?
These are not considered remittance errors:
- A routine inquiry about your account balance
- A request for information for tax or other recordkeeping purposes
- A request for duplicate copies of documentation
- Inquiries about a transfer that is $15 or less
- A change requested by the designated recipient
What are the most common reasons for disputing a transaction?
Most errors reported in electronic fund transfers include:
- Fraudulent use of your card or card number
- Cash not received or partial cash received
- Duplicate transaction
- Incorrect dollar amount charged
- Unrecognized charges
- Item purchased and returned, but no credit received
- Services not completed or as expected
- Goods or services never received or arrived damaged or not as requested
What should I do before I dispute the transaction?
Before you dispute a transaction, consider:
- Did your spouse, significant other, child, caretaker, or another family member complete the transaction? Note that transactions completed by someone you allowed to use your card and/or code are not considered unauthorized unless you have notified the bank that you have rescinded the permission.
- Have you checked your documentation to make sure you’re not mistaken about the details?
- Have you tried to verify the transaction, resolve the error, or get more information from the merchant?
Contact your account officer or call us at 617-912-1900 to get started.