Does Freezing Your Checking Account Allow ACH Debits?

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Your bank might freeze your account before it is closed.
Your bank might freeze your account before it is closed. (Image: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Automated Clearing House debits enable companies and lenders to take money from your account automatically without the hassle of checks or cash transactions. If your account is frozen, however, your bank will not typically allow ACH debits. Freezing your checking account protects both you and the bank in the event that there are problems with your account.

Freeze Terms

When a bank freezes your checking account, deposits and withdrawals to the account are not typically allowed. You cannot request to freeze your bank account; only the bank at which you have your account can authorize a freeze to your checking account. For example, if the bank has reason to believe that your account is compromised or is involved in illegal activity, it will freeze your account to begin an investigation. Your bank may or may not inform you of checking-account freezes.

ACH Types

Most ACH debits are set up and authorized by the checking-account holder to occur periodically at predetermined times. For instance, if you authorize your utility company to take money out of your checking account via ACH debits, this is a voluntary service to which you agree. However, if you have a wage garnishment against your checking account to pay for an outstanding debt, the ACH debit to pay for that garnishment might be required by law. Your bank might choose to allow the ACH debit if there is a legal requirement to do so.

Alternatives

If you no longer want to use the ACH debit service provided by a company, or you have reason to believe that a company uses unauthorized ACH debits for debt purposes, notify your bank. Your bank can block all ACH debit transactions from your account, notify you when an ACH debit is requested or prevent specific companies from issuing ACH debits to your checking account.

Considerations

Freezing your checking account or blocking ACH debits might prevent companies from extracting money from your checking account, but it could also create legal problems for you in the future. For instance, if your utility company can no longer debit your checking account and you make no other payment arrangements, it might pursue a civil judgment against you for any outstanding balances you owe. If you cannot pay your debts, notify your lenders; blocking ACH debits might make matters worse.

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