The Electronic Payments Association has stepped up scrutiny of its automated clearing house network in an attempt to weed out fraudulent charges.

The industry group, also known as Nacha, voted on Tuesday 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 penalties 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, the trade group's president and chief executive, in a press release Tuesday.

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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