New ATM Rules Already the Norm Here


Starting Saturday, consumers nationwide will have faster access to newly deposited checks at banks and savings and loans.

The change--brought about by the phasing in of the second stage of a federal law--will allow some consumers to withdraw newly deposited funds more quickly. But it also could sharply reduce savers’ ability in some states to make deposits through automated teller machines.

Californians, however, likely will notice little change. Major banks in the state already meet or exceed the new standards.


“As far as the man on the street goes, he won’t even feel the difference,” Bob Fienberg, spokesman for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said of California consumers.

The rules taking effect Saturday require savings institutions nationwide to comply with a new federal schedule that shortens by at least a day the time institutions can hold deposited checks before making the funds available for withdrawal.

The new rules, part of the Expedited Funds Availability Act of 1987, require banks to provide access to local checks within two days and out-of-town checks within five days. That compares to the current three days on local checks and seven days on non-local checks.

Local checks are defined as those from the same Federal Reserve zone. Los Angeles and San Francisco are in different zones.

That same new schedule also will apply to deposits to ATMs belonging to a customer’s institution.

The largest changes affect deposits to ATMs not owned by a customer’s institution, such as those used through ATM networks. The new rules call for institutions to make local checks available in two days instead of seven and out-of-town checks in five days instead of seven.

Because the new rules will allow significantly less time to verify checks deposited through such ATMs, the savings institutions will become more vulnerable to fraud, analysts said. As a result, they likely will stop accepting deposits through ATMs owned by another institution.

But in California, most banks already don’t accept deposits through ATMs of another institution.

And because most California banks adopted the new schedule two years ago, effects of Saturday’s change will draw little attention from consumers. Others, including Bank of America, have adopted standards even more stringent than those required by law.