(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Beginning on Sunday, banks will begin returning checks of customers who, one year after the overdraft directive was set in place, still have not arranged a new credit line for their accounts and exceed the NIS 1,000 automatic limit imposed by the banks.
"We don't expect this to be a problem for the overwhelming majority of bank customers as they have already arranged for new credit lines," said Israel Bank Association spokesman Tibi Rabinovici. "However, for those who have not taken care of updating their accounts, even if they go one shekel above the NIS 1,000 limit, their checks will be returned to them," he warned.
Yossi Sa'adon, spokesman of the Bank of Israel, said that according to details of the country's overdraft laws, set in place last July 1, customers were informed by their banks that they were going to be automatically presented with new credit lines based on each customer's credit and account history, and that within one year they must arrange a new credit limit for their accounts.
"The banks have put in a great effort over the past year to ensure that their customers have updated their accounts in order to avoid running into credit trouble," commented Moshe Perl, the director-general of the Banks Association.
Should customers fail to arrange a new credit framework for themselves, according to the Bank of Israel regulations they will have their credit line dropped to NIS 1,000 and any checks that would result in the account exceeding that amount would be returned without payment.
"It doesn't matter who the customer is - even if he has a business account that we know is funded regularly or plenty of money in another account at the bank, we will not accept checks above the NIS 1,000 limit as it will put the customer into overdraft," Bank Leumi Deputy Spokesman Yoav Polef told The Jerusalem Post.
For most of Leumi's customers, he explained, this shouldn't be a problem, as only 8-10% have not yet arranged new credit lines for their accounts.
"However, the only thing that matters now is whether or not they have a new credit line, and despite there only being a small percentage of customers who have not yet set up a new line, they are headed for trouble if they don't take care of it."
According to Dr. Roby Nathanson, the director-general of the Microcenter for Political Economics, the fact that the changes of the overdraft regulations have been introduced gradually has allowed customers to adjust to not being in overdraft and most bank customers have already arranged a new credit framework for themselves.
"Not a big percentage will be affected and certainly not a high enough percentage to have any impact on the economy," he said.
Sa'adon added that customers who have not yet arranged a new credit line also only will be permitted to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines as long the amount does not push them above the bank-enforced NIS 1,000 cap.