How to Stop a Bill Payment

Contact your bank if you have unexpected expenses and need to stop payment on a bill.
Contact your bank if you have unexpected expenses and need to stop payment on a bill. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Circumstances can change within hours. The convenience of paying bills online has revealed a new set of potential difficulties. Checking accounts that run out of funds and have outstanding checks applied to them are subject to overdraft fees by banks. The Huffington Post reported that the banking industry earned $38 billion in overdraft fees in 2009. Avoiding overdraft fees is essential to good financial housekeeping. Stopping bill payments when funds are not available is sometimes necessary if you do not get paid or have unexpected expenses.

Get in touch with the account manager at the bank. Tell him to stop all pending Automated Clearing House transactions until the account is funded again. Automated Clearing House or ACH is a worldwide network used by financial institutions to transfer money like bills and taxes. ACH transactions are completely electronic and are commonly used to transfer money domestically and internationally. Temporarily halting all ACH transfers will prevent overdraft fees.

Try letting the person who sent the bill know that it cannot be paid. Request an extension and tell the billing party when they can expect payment. Utility companies like electric and phone companies are usually understanding. Most billing companies have restrictions on how many times a customer can ask for an extension. Effective communication with the billing party is the only way to succeed. Explain the situation and emphasize that they can expect payment within a reasonable time frame.

Close the account if all other options do not work. Call or send an email to the account manager asking him to start the proceedings to close the account. Preventing overdraft fees can necessitate this step. Electronic glitches can still cause bounced checks or missed payment dates. When this happens, close the account. Trying to maintain a good balance is laudable, but sometimes it simply is not possible. Once the account is closed, take careful stock of the situation and begin again.

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