Regulation E, or Reg E for short, governs electronic payments and transfers, such as those from debit cards, ATMs, and direct deposits. It provides rules that banks must follow to protect consumers when issues arise with these types of transactions.

One of the protections Reg E offers is called "provisional credit." Let's break down what this means:

What is Provisional Credit?

Imagine you notice a transaction you didn’t authorize when checking your bank statement, or there's an error where the wrong amount was deducted from your account. You report this to your bank, expecting them to fix it. Under Reg E, while the bank investigates your claim, they can't just leave you without the disputed money. This is where provisional credit comes into play.

How It Works:

  1. You Report the Error: You tell your bank there’s a mistake with a transaction.

  2. Bank Investigation Begins: The bank has up to 10 business days to investigate your claim. For more complex issues, they can take up to 45 days but need to let you know why they need more time, unless the claim qualifies for the extended 90 day timeframe (not within a state, point of sale, or a newly funded account). If it is determined that an error has occurred and the merchant has not corrected the error, the financial institution must correct the error within 1 business day.

  3. Provisional Credit Issued: If the bank cannot complete its investigation within 10 business days, they must temporarily put the disputed amount back into your account until they resolve the issue. This temporary refund is what we call "provisional credit."

Why It Matters:

Provisional credit is important because it ensures that while the bank is figuring out what went wrong, you aren’t left struggling without the funds that were wrongly taken from your account. You can pay bills, make purchases, and go about your daily activities without the added stress of missing money.

The Final Outcome:

Once the bank concludes its investigation:

  • If the bank finds that there was indeed an error or unauthorized transaction, the provisional credit becomes permanent.
  • If the bank determines that there was no error or fraud, they will remove the provisional credit (take the money back that they originally credited to cover the amount in question) and restore the transaction status to what it originally was.

In essence, provisional credit acts as a financial safety net, providing peace of mind while the bank verifies the details of your dispute.

You may also like

FINBOA Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program Solution
FINBOA Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program Solution
9 April, 2020

April 9, 2020 – FINBOA Workplace, a process automation platform headquartered in Houston, Texas, announces the Small Bus...

Infographic: Top 10 Best Practices for Processing Payment Disputes
Infographic: Top 10 Best Practices for Processing Payment Disputes
15 February, 2022

Banks and credit unions leverage these best practices for better outcomes (reduced write-offs, improved customer experie...

Debit and Credit Card Dispute Tracking for Regulation E Compliance
Debit and Credit Card Dispute Tracking for Regulation E Compliance
4 November, 2016

Banks are faced with increasing number of debit/credit card disputes. Manual handling of these disputes by banks is time...