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7 Money Transfer Questions and Answers

Can I use the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network to transfer funds abroad?

ACH may be used to transfer funds to individuals or businesses in the United States or abroad. In general, ACH transfers that are made by consumers from the United States to recipients in foreign countries are among the types of money transfers that are considered "remittance transfers" under federal law. Starting October 28, 2013, federal law will provide new protections to consumers who send remittance transfers. You can read a summary of the new protections for more information. 

I am having problems with domestic or international wire transfers, remittances, or international money transfers. What can I do?

Your rights under federal or state law may vary, including depending on the way you sent the money (for example, wire transfer, electronic payment, etc.). If you have a problem, contact your company right away and explain the issue. You can also submit a complaint with the CFPB by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372). You also may be able to submit a complaint with your state regulator

I heard that companies that send money abroad are now required to tell me the exchange rate and the fees when I send money abroad. The company that I used did not tell me this information. What can I do?

Starting October 28, 2013, a new federal law will require consistent disclosures of certain fee, tax, and exchange rate information for remittance transfers sent by consumers in the United States to people or businesses abroad.  You can read a summary of the rule for more information.

Under current law, the amount of information that a bank, credit union, or other company that sends money is required to tell you about the terms of the service can vary, including depending on the mechanism used to send money and the type of company involved. 

If you believe that a company did not tell you information that it should have about a money transfer, contact that company right away and explain the issue. You can also submit a complaint with the CFPB by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or you may submit a complaint with your state regulator.

What are the new federal protections for consumers who send money internationally?

Summary

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued rules to protect consumers who send money electronically to foreign countries. These transactions are called “remittance transfers.” The new rules take effect on October 28, 2013. 

Background

A “remittance transfer” is an electronic transfer of money from a consumer in the United States to a person or business in a foreign country. It can include transfers from retail “money transmitters” as well as banks and credit unions that transfer funds through wire transfers, automated clearing house (ACH) transactions, or other methods.

Consumers in the United States send billions of dollars in remittance transfers each year. Up to now, federal consumer protection rules have not applied to most of these transfers. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act changed that by establishing new standards with respect to remittance transfer and authorizing the Bureau to issue implementing regulations.  

Disclosures

The rules generally require companies to give disclosures to consumers before they pay for the remittance transfers. The disclosures must contain:

  • The exchange rate.
  • Fees and taxes collected by the companies.
  • Fees charged by the companies’ agents abroad and intermediary institutions.
  • The amount of money expected to be delivered abroad, not including certain fees charged to the recipient or foreign taxes.
  • If appropriate, a disclaimer that additional fees and foreign taxes may apply.

Companies must also provide a receipt that repeats the information in the first disclosure or a proof of payment. The receipt must also tell a consumer the date when the money will arrive and how the consumer can report a problem with a transfer.

Companies must provide the disclosures in English. Sometimes companies must also provide the disclosures in other languages.

Other protections

The rules also generally require that:

  • Consumers get 30 minutes (and sometimes more) to cancel a transfer. Consumers can get their money back if they cancel.
  • Companies must investigate if a consumer reports a problem with a transfer. For certain errors, consumers can generally get a refund or have the transfer sent again free of charge if the money did not arrive as promised.
  • Companies that provide remittance transfers are responsible for mistakes made by certain people who work for them

The rules also contain specific provisions applicable to transfers that consumers schedule in advance and for transfers that are scheduled to recur on a regular basis.

Coverage

The rules apply to most remittance transfers if they are:

  • More than $15
  • Made by a consumer in the United States
  • Sent to a person or company in a foreign country

This includes many types of transfers, including wire transfers.

The rules apply to many companies that offer remittance transfers, including:

  • Banks
  • Thrifts
  • Credit unions
  • Money transmitters
  • Broker-dealers

However, the rules do not apply to companies that consistently provide 100 or fewer remittance transfers each year.

What is an ACH?

An ACH is an electronic fund transfer made between banks and credit unions across what is called the Automated Clearing House network.

ACH is used for all kinds of fund transfer transactions, including direct deposit of paychecks and monthly debits for routine payments. Merchants often enable consumers to pay bills via ACH by providing an account number and bank routing number. A number of online payment services also conduct transactions via ACH, including most banks and credit unions’ online bill payment services.

While many ACH payments clear quickly, because of the way in which an ACH is processed and precautions against fraud and money laundering, transactions can sometimes take several days to complete.

ACH transactions can trigger a return notification if there are insufficient funds in the account.

What is a remittance transfer?

Many people use the word "remittance" when they refer to sending money from the United States to other countries. Federal law defines “remittance transfers” to include certain electronic money transfers from consumers in the United States to recipients abroad, including friends, family members, or businesses. Remittance transfers are commonly known as “international wires,” “international money transfers,” or “remittances.”

Under current law, the type of protections available to consumers who send money abroad depends on the technical method used to send the money and applicable state or federal law.

Starting October 28, 2013, federal law will provide new protections, including new rights to see more information about the transfer, resolve complaints or mistakes, and cancel transfers after they've been requested.

What is a wire transfer?

The term “wire transfer” is often used to refer to any electronic transfer of money from one person to another. The term “wire transfer” also has a more narrow technical meaning, referring to one certain method of transferring funds, which usually involves an electronic transfer of funds from one bank or credit union account to another.  In general, wire transfers that are made by consumers from the United States to other countries are considered "remittance transfers" under federal law.

Starting October 28, 2013, federal law will provide new protections to consumers who send remittance transfers as defined under federal law.




Copyright © 2013 by Mark McCracken , All Rights Reserved