Explanatory All Institutions Letter
September 1, 2006
TO THE INDIVIDUAL OR INSTITUTION ADDRESSED:
RE: Adoption of Amendments to Part 400 of the Superintendent’s Regulations (Licensed Cashers of Checks)
The Superintendent has adopted the attached amendments to Part 400 of the Superintendent’s Regulations. The amendments will become effective upon publication in the State Register, which is expected to occur on September 6, 2006. The adopted amendments are substantially similar in form to those contained in an emergency regulation which has been in effect since October 14, 2004.
Chapter 432 of the Laws of 2004, which was approved on September 14, 2004, amended the Banking Law in relation to the cashing of checks for payees who are other than natural persons. The new legislation provides for the regulation of the business of check cashing by the Banking Department, whether performed for customers who are natural persons or business entities.
The changes to Part 400 all implement, or conform the regulations of the Banking Department to, specific changes made by the Legislature in Chapter 432, except for certain of the amendments to Part 400.6, which incorporate the provisions of an existing emergency regulation amending the signage requirements of Part 400.6. Specifically:
Amendments to Section 400.1(a) make it clear that the requirement that any person engaging in the business of check cashing must first obtain a license from the Superintendent applies whether such activities are conducted for customers who are natural persons or for any business or entity.
New Section 400.1(g) relates to the requirement in Banking Law Section 369 that no license shall be issued for a location which is closer than three tenths of a mile from an existing licensee. Chapter 432 amended Section 369 to make it clear that the Superintendent may permit a location to be licensed which is closer than three tenths of a mile from an existing licensee, so long as the newly licensed location is a “restricted location” as described in subsection 1 of Section 369 of the Banking Law – that is, a location which is restricted to the cashing of checks, drafts or money orders only for payees that are other than natural persons. New Section 400.1(g) makes it clear that this exemption will not be affected by a change of control of such restricted location, provided that the licensee continues to engage only in commercial check cashing.
Amendments to Section 400.6(a)(1) deal with the requirement that licensees post a schedule of rates. These amendments make it clear that the signage requirement applies only to retail check cashers, and that the posted rate schedule need only cover transactions involving payees that are natural persons.
The amendments to Part 400.6 also incorporate the provisions of an earlier emergency regulation amending that section. Previously adopted amendments to Part 400.12 of the Superintendent’s Regulations increased the maximum fee that licensed check cashers may charge and provide for an annual fee adjustment thereafter based on the increase in the consumer price index for the New York metropolitan area, if any. As a result of the amendments to Part 400.12, licensed check cashers need to revise their posted schedules of fees and charges.
In addition to amending the disclosure of the amount of the check cashing fee, the amendment changes the structure of the disclosure to provide more useful information. Previously under Part 400.6, the signage was required to disclose the fee charged in five cent increments. As a result, the corresponding check amounts were often atypical amounts. Under the amendment to Part 400.6, the disclosure will be governed by the amount of the check and the corresponding check cashing fee set forth on the signage according to the amount of the check in increments of $25.00 ranging from $25.00 to $2,000. The schedule will also indicate the percentage charge imposed on all checks and the $1.00 minimum.
Moreover, since the fee may change in the future due to increases in the Consumer Price Index, the amendment allows signs to be made of durable material instead of specifying that the signs must be made of plastic or metal.
Chapter 432 amended Section 372(1) of the Banking Law to make it clear that while the Superintendent shall establish the maximum fees which may be charged by licensees for cashing checks, such maximum fees shall not apply to the cashing of checks for payees that are other than natural persons. The amendments to Part 400.12 provide for a comparable exception in the relevant regulation.
In addition to the foregoing, the amendments revise Part 400.1(a) and (b) and Part 400.15 to update references to the location of the New York City office of the Department.
Very truly yours,
Sam L. Abram
Secretary of the Banking Board