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  e-Check Over the Phone

You have been able to use your credit card make payments over the telephone for a long time. Now you can make payments over the telephone from your checking account.

A telephone-initiated payment, often referred to as a "pay by phone" or TEL payment, is when you authorize a payment from your checking account by providing a company with your bank account information over the phone.

How is it used?
You can make a payment from your checking account over the telephone to
  • Pay your mortgage, insurance, or utility company
  • Pay for a mail order or other purchase
  • Make a past due payment
Never give your account number over the phone to a company or person you do not know!

When you authorize a payment over the telephone, the company should provide you with the following information:
  • Confirmation that your are authorizing a one-time payment to your checking account
  • The date that the payment will be charged to your account
  • The amount of the payment
  • A telephone number for you to call if you have questions.
The company can either
  • record the conversation they had with you, including the specific information regarding your authorization or
  • send you a notice confirming the date and amount that you authorized
Remember, you should be very careful when providing your bank account information over the telephone. You should never give your account information over the phone to an individual or company that you do not know.

Consumer Protection

You are protected from payments that you did not authorize. If you feel that an error has been made to your account you should contact your financial institution immediately.

You should remember to review your statement from your financial institution every month to be sure that all information is correct.

Q. Who offers telephone-based electronic check services? In other words, who can electronically charge my checking account for a bounced check?

A. Just about any company that you would pay by check. Companies that often use this service include mortgage companies, rental and lease companies, loan companies, car loan companies, financial institutions such as banks and credit unions, credit cards, utility companies, insurance companies, mail order firms, even some government agencies.

Q. If I use this telephone "electronic check", when will my account be charged?

A. Generally, your account will be charged one to two business days after you place the call and authorized the payment - usually about the same as for a paper check.

Q. Who can charge my account using an electronic check?

A. Only companies that you gave permission to over the phone can process the payment electronically.

Q. How do I provide account information for the payment? Do I get a copy of what I provide?

A. You provide account information over the phone by reading the numbers on the bottom of the check. (See "How to Read your Check" on this web site http://www.electronic-check.org/reading.htm) Most of the companies who accept payment by telephone have procedures to help you do this correctly.

Q. What happens if I need proof of payment?

A. The IRS established in the 1970s that the listing on your account statement serves as proof of payment.

Q. Will the company I give my account information to be able to take additional payments from my account?

A. No. When you authorize a company to take a payment from your account, it is for one payment only. If you want to make another payment you should provide the company with a new authorization.

Q. Can I place a stop payment on the payment?

A. Yes; however you must contact your financial institution in time for them to act on your request before the payment is deducted from your account.

Q. If my electronic check bounces, can the company add a return check fee to the amount of the payment and charge my account for more than the amount of my check?

A. No. The electronic check entry must match the amount of the check.

Q. How will an electronic check appear on my account statement? That is, how will I know that the payment I authorized over the phone has shown up on the statement?

A. If your statement lists checks in one section and electronic transactions - such as debit card and ATM transactions - in another section, then the electronic check will probably be listed with the electronic transactions. You'll see the company name, the dollar amount and an identifying word such as "PURCHASE" or "PAYMENT" or even "ACH DEBIT."

Q. Since I don't use the check to make the payment, how will I keep track of the payment in my check book?

A. Record the date, amount and the company you paid in your checkbook register. This is the typical thing to do when you are making a purchase over the telephone.

Q. How do I get a refund if I return what I bought?

A. The company you authorize establishes its refund policies in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations and lets you know what the policies are. Contact the company directly for questions on refunds.

Q. What do I do if there's an error on my account statement? For example, what if I am charged the wrong amount, or if a payment appears on my statement that I did not authorize?

A. As always, contact your financial institution as soon as you discover an error on your account statement. Federal regulations protect you from "unauthorized" payments. Remember, always review your checking account statement as soon as you get it.
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