Responding to congressional anger over delays in cashing checks, the Federal Reserve Board has imposed a strict timetable on banks, savings and loan institutions and credit unions for making funds available to depositors.
Under the rule formulated this week, banks must make available funds the next day for checks drawn on the U.S. government, state and local governments, and cashier's and certified checks.They must make available funds on local checks in three days and on checks from distant banks in seven days. The periods were to be shortened further in 1990.
The Fed adopted the rule under a law passed by Congress last year designed to end some banks' practice of placing holds as long as 21 days on checks.
The regulation, which takes effect Sept. 1, also requires banks to disclose when they put longer holds on checks and would speed the processing of checks to help prevent fraud.
Banks objected to parts of the rule, saying it would make it easier for forgers to defraud banks and would impose high costs for compliance.
Fed Governor Robert Heller, who voted against the rule, said he feared banks that have been making funds available to customers quickly will now take the maximum time allowed.
"The consumer may well be worse off," Heller said.