Nacha, the electronic payments association, has stepped up scrutiny of the automated clearing house network in an attempt to weed out fraudulent charges.

The industry group voted on Aug. 26 to establish procedures for investigating "outlier" transactions. The vote gives Nacha the authority to scrutinize a company's activity on the clearing house if it detects a high volume of charges that are returned without payment.

The group also agreed to impose a penalty on banks involved in originating the bad charges. The penalty, known as an "unauthorized entry fee," is designed as an incentive for financial institutions to more closely monitor third-party payment networks.

"These rules show that financial institutions can come together through private-sector rulemaking to address practices that may result in harm to consumers," said Janet O. Estep, Nacha's president and chief executive, in an Aug. 25 press release.

Nacha proposed the rules changes last November. Adoption of the new industry rules comes as banks face pressure from regulators to scrutinize transactions involving payday lenders and other online merchants. 

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