How to Put an ACH Block or a Hard Hold on My Checking Account

••• Yasuhide Fumoto/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Nobody wants to plan for fraud. However, it's important to know what to do to stop fraud or unauthorized payments if they show up in your bank account. Take a look at the crucial steps to take with help from your bank as soon as you detect a suspicious transaction.

Read More:What Is an ACH Hold For?

Apply an Automated Clearing House (ACH) Block

Also known as a balance hold, an ACH block is a fraud-management tool that allows you to block all ACH debits and credits. This means that no payments will be authorized from your account. While this can be an effective option for preventing fraud, it can also be cumbersome due to the fact that it prevents you from being able to pay your bills. It may be possible to control when funds are taken out of your account without necessarily blocking all payments using another option called an ACH filter.

Use an ACH Filter

An ACH filter allows you to add specific payees for approved ACH debits. Using this option, only payments made to payees on your tightly controlled list will be permitted. Here's how the filter option works at most banks:

  • The account holder can allow or return ACH debits based on specific criteria.
  • Only transactions that meet the account holder's criteria will be allowed to be posted.
  • If the account holder chooses, automated "allows" and "returns" can be set up.
  • The account holder is alerted by text or email when funds are pulled through an ACH debit.

Procedures for ACH filters can vary by bank. In some cases, a bank may not offer a filter option. However, this is an important option to look into if you're focused on the dual goals of preventing fraud and making timely payments. An ACH filter is usually the best option if you're looking for a way to automatically monitor your account while keeping a tight list of payees.

Request a Hard Hold

In some cases, you may need to simply plan to close your account because it has been breached. A bank will typically implement something called a "hard hold" until your account is closed. Under a hard hold, payments are blocked.

It's a misconception that simply closing your account immediately after detecting fraud is the smart thing to do. It's very important to have a hard hold placed on an account to let it sit for a bit before you close the account. You may be charged overdraft fees if ACH debits are sent to your closed account. A hard hold protects you from this until you can make arrangements to have all automatic payments joined to a new account.

Banks have differing policies regarding hard holds. In some cases, banks won't place this type of hold on your account if you have an outstanding balance on a bank-issued credit card.

Contact Your Bank Immediately If You Suspect Fraud

While it's true that most banks have very sophisticated online portals that allow you to control your account settings, they may not be enough if you need to take action against fraud. It's important to reach out to speak with someone at your bank to investigate all of the options you have for safeguarding your account. A hold of some kind is almost always necessary even if you intend to shut down your account.

A complete plan of action should include a mix of an account hold and account monitoring. You may even want to report scams and fraud to your state consumer protection office, so they can investigate.