What Is ACH Debit Block? And Why Is It Important?

By Timothy Moore · June 06, 2022 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What Is ACH Debit Block? And Why Is It Important?

An ACH debit block is a fraud protection tool: Companies can opt into it to prevent any ACH debits and credits from their bank account. If you suspect that your business is a victim of fraud, an ACH debit block is an easy way to protect your money until you’ve resolved the issue. It can also be a good general practice to discourage unauthorized debits.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

•   What ACH blocks are and how they work

•   The benefits of an ACH debit block for small businesses and enterprise companies

•   An alternative solution to ACH debit blocks

How ACH Debit Block Works

Before you dive into how an ACH debit block works, it’s important to understand some of the basic concepts related to this process, such as the ACH system in general and debit blocks.

What Is ACH?

ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a common payment method that works like a digital check, transferring money from one bank account into another. A common example of an ACH transfer is a direct deposit from an employer into an employee’s checking account.

As an individual consumer, you may also make ACH payments yourself. For example, you might be using ACH when you utilize peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo, pay your bills online, digitally file and pay your income taxes, or even transfer money over to an investment account like SoFi Invest.

What Is a Debit Block?

Businesses use ACH payments as well, to collect funds and pay expenses. But these can be a target for criminal activity. Scammers can try to pull funds out of your bank account without your approval. If you want to prevent money from leaving a business account via ACH because of this potential risk, an ACH debit block might be a good move.

When enabled, a debit block would impede your company from being able to use the funds in the account in all ACH use cases. It’s important to understand the ramifications of a debit block — and only request one from your bank if your company has alternative methods (or accounts) for making payments.

How Does an ACH Debit Block Work?

An ACH debit block is very straightforward. When this fraud management tool is implemented on a bank account, no one will be able to withdraw funds from the account via ACH.

If you have a debit block on a business account and need to make an ACH payment from that account, you’ll need to take action to make sure it goes through. It’s important to contact your bank to authorize that specific payment before the payment recipient begins the ACH debit process. Otherwise, you will need to make all future payments with paper or electronic checks, debit cards, credit cards, cash, or wire transfers.

Recommended: Understanding ACH Returns

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

Benefits of ACH Debit Block

ACH debit blocks can make payments difficult, so why would your business ever get one? It’s all about fraud — and not wanting to be a victim. Here’s a closer look at the advantages of using an ACH debit block.

Reduces Electronic Payment Fraud

One reason to enact an ACH block on a business account is if you suspect your account has been compromised. An ACH debit block can prevent fraudsters from being able to debit money electronically from an account.

An ACH debit block is just one fraud tool available to businesses. Other actions to take if you believe your bank account has been compromised might include contacting business credit bureaus and filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Individual consumers who are victims of identity theft can also do more than contact their bank. If you believe your identity has been stolen, other steps to consider include filing a police report, reporting the fraud to the FTC, notifying the consumer credit bureaus, and contacting your creditors.

Offers an Additional Security Layer

Debit blocks are sometimes a reactive solution. That is, once a business suspects fraud, they can contact their bank to implement an ACH debit block on the account.

However, some companies — those that don’t need to make electronic payments from a specific business account — may prefer to proactively set up a debit block as an additional security layer. If you do so, just understand that you’ll need to contact your bank every time you want to authorize an electronic payment from your account.

Recommended: How Long Does Direct Deposit Take?

Setting Up an ACH Debit Block

Setting up an ACH debit block is easier than setting up direct deposit. Just call your bank, provide your credentials, and request that they set up debit block immediately. If you are doing this in response to fraudulent account activity, mention that on the call to determine what additional steps you should take.

Removing the debit block or authorizing a one-time payment will follow the same process. Contact your bank over the phone and explain exactly what you need.

Positive Pay vs ACH Debit Block

While an ACH debit block can be a good way to protect your business checking account, it does have its drawbacks. As an alternative, you may be able to implement positive pay.

Positive pay is an ACH filter that allows you to create a list of payees or vendors that will be automatically approved when they initiate an ACH debit from your company’s account. Certain criteria for these funds transfers can also be established. For example, you might put a cap on how much they can debit in a single transaction.

If any other individuals or businesses attempt an ACH withdrawal from your account, you will receive an alert. You can then review the request and approve or deny the ACH transfer.

Positive pay is more hands-on than ACH debit block but can be helpful if you have a list of recurring ACH payments. Positive pay may also be useful because it allows your company to review any unauthorized requests instead of having your bank flat-out reject them without a review, as with ACH debit block.

Worth noting: Because each bank’s offering is different, there might sometimes be an overlap between a debit block and positive pay. Some banks, for example, allow you to review and approve vendor payments when you have an ACH debit block enabled.

Recommended: Understanding ACH Fees

The Takeaway

ACH debit blocks are a secure way to prevent fraudulent electronic transfers from your company’s bank account. If you suspect that your bank account information has been compromised, contact your bank to initiate an ACH debit block and ask what other fraud prevention resources they can provide.

When thinking about your bank’s security, don’t forget about your personal accounts. SoFi is one great option to keep your money safe. Our online banking app is a fee-free option. You’ll earn a competitive APY and get early access to your paycheck. We also offer several security and fraud protection features, including in-app debit card freezes, suspicious activity monitoring, chip card technology, travel notices, and two-factor authentication.

Bank better and super securely with SoFi.


Can ACH payments be blocked?

A business can block ACH payments with a feature called ACH debit block. This prevents anyone from electronically withdrawing money from its bank account. You may also be able to set up positive pay, which allows you to approve a list of electronic payments and review all other ACH requests.

How do I stop unauthorized ACH payments?

Set up an ACH debit block (typically, this is for business accounts) to prevent any electronic withdrawals from an account. If you want to allow expected ACH payments to process uninterrupted, set up positive pay, allowing only approved payments to go through. For your personal accounts, you may be able to set up alerts every time an ACH debit occurs in your account. If you notice any unauthorized activity, report it to your bank immediately.

What happens if an ACH transfer fails?

If the initial ACH transfer is not processed, some companies may attempt it a second time. Ultimately, if the ACH debit from your personal account fails, the business expecting the funds can hold you responsible for additional fees, such as late fees. If a bill continues to go unpaid, the company may send it to a collection agency, which will likely have a negative impact on your credit score.

How long does an ACH payment take to clear?

ACH payments are not immediate. In fact, they can take up to three or four business days. However, many banks have moved to next-day ACH transactions, which could mean funds are transferred in just one or two business days.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

Photo credit: iStock/Olemedia

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender