Q: If a third party fraudulently induces a consumer into sharing account access information that is used to initiate an electronic fund transfer from the consumer’s account, does the transfer meet Regulation E’s definition of “unauthorized electronic fund transfer”?
A: (UPDATED 6/4/2021): Yes. Regulation E defines an unauthorized electronic fund transfer (EFT) as an EFT from a consumer’s account initiated by a person other than the consumer without actual authority to initiate the transfer and from which the consumer receives no benefit. 12 CFR § 1005.2(m). Comment 1005.2(m)-3 explains further that an unauthorized EFT includes a transfer initiated by a person who obtained the access device from the consumer through fraud or robbery. Similarly, when a consumer is fraudulently induced into sharing account access information with a third party, and a third party uses that information to make an EFT from the consumer’s account, the transfer is an unauthorized EFT under Regulation E.
For example, the Bureau is aware of the following situations where a third party has fraudulently obtained a consumer’s account access information: (1) a third party calling the consumer and pretending to be a representative from the consumer’s financial institution and then tricking the consumer into providing their account login information, texted account confirmation code, debit card number, or other information that could be used to initiate an EFT out of the consumer’s account, and (2) a third party using phishing or other methods to gain access to a consumer’s computer and observe the consumer entering account login information. EFTs stemming from these situations meet the Regulation E definition of unauthorized EFTs.