The Automated Clearing House (ACH) system is a quick, simple, and secure way to transfer money between banks. However, online identity theft can still happen.
One way to mitigate the possibility of unauthorized electronic payments is to use an ACH positive pay service. Offered by banks and credit unions typically to businesses, ACH positive pay is a tool that allows you to manage and monitor transactions to ensure that only authorized payments will be paid from your accounts.
Read on to learn more about what ACH positive pay is, how it works, and its benefits.
What Is ACH Positive Pay?
ACH positive pay is a fraud prevention service offered by many banks and credit unions that allows businesses to control which ACH transactions are allowed to post to their accounts.
Also known as positive pay for ACH, the service typically allows you to set up a list of approved vendors that are paid automatically, along with the option to add filters, such as expiration dates and caps on the amount of money that can be paid to a particular company. You can add vendors to your approved list before an initial transaction to make sure the payment goes through.
Any transaction that fails to meet your parameters for payment will trigger an alert. You can then decide if you want to approve or deny the payment. This can go a long way toward preventing fraudulent transactions before they happen.
While banks typically charge for positive pay services, some institutions now offer it for free.
💡 Quick Tip: Tired of paying pointless bank fees? When you open a bank account online you often avoid excess charges.
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!
How Does ACH Positive Pay Work?
The exact way that an ACH positive pay service works will vary depending on your financial institution. Generally, there are four key steps in the positive pay process.
1. Authorization: A business provides its bank with a list of authorized ACH transactions, including details such as the transaction amount, originator ID, and effective date.
2. Incoming transactions: When an ACH transaction is initiated, the bank checks the transaction details against the authorized list provided by the business.
3. Decision: If the transaction details match an authorized transaction, the bank allows the transaction to proceed. If there is no match, the bank rejects the transaction and notifies the business.
4. Notification: The business receives a notification of the rejected transaction and can review the details to determine if it is fraudulent. If it is legitimate, the business can authorize the transaction for future processing.
Recommended: ACH Transfer Limits: All You Need to Know
What Is Positive Pay For Checks?
Just like a positive pay for ACH system, many banks and credit unions offer businesses positive pay services for checks. The service works in a similar way but, rather than protect against fraudulent electronic transactions, it seeks to prevent check fraud.
With positive pay for checks, businesses provide their bank with a list of issued checks. The bank’s positive pay system then matches the date, check number, dollar amount, and account number of each check presented against that list to protect against forged, altered, and counterfeit checks. Checks that are considered suspicious are sent back to the issuer (you) for examination. This gives you the chance to examine and approve any questionable checks, reducing the chances that any fraudulent checks are processed.
Recommended: ACH vs Check: What Are the Differences?
What Is Reverse Positive Pay?
Reverse positive pay is a variation on the concept of check positive pay that gives the job of filtering check transactions to the business rather than bank.
With the reverse positive pay system, the bank provides the company with daily notifications about all presented checks and clears only those that are approved by the company.
If the company does not respond within a set period of time, the bank will typically go ahead and cash the check(s) in question. The reverse positive method is not as reliable and effective as positive pay, but generally costs less.
Recommended: Guide to Check Verification
Features and Benefits of ACH Positive Pay
Here’s a look at some of the benefits of setting up ACH positive pay for your business.
Security and Fraud Control
One of the biggest perks of ACH positive pay is increased security and fraud detection. You can set up several different blocks, filters, and alerts, such as:
• ACH block This blocks all ACH transactions except for accounts that you specifically authorize.
• ACH fraud filter This allows you to set up filters to control what activity is and is not automatically processed.
• Activity alerts This allows you to monitor all activity or only receive alerts for potentially fraudulent transactions.
While the details of ACH positive pay systems vary by financial institution, businesses can typically choose to receive notifications via email, SMS, or through their banking portal. This allows you to choose the communication method that works best for your business. Notifications can typically also be customized based on the type of transaction or alert.
Recommended: How Often Should You Monitor Your Checking Account?
Internal Control Support
Positive pay systems help businesses maintain internal controls by providing a clear audit trail of authorized transactions. This allows businesses to easily reconcile their accounts by comparing authorized transactions with their bank statements.
Offered by many banks and credit unions, ACH positive pay can be a valuable tool for businesses looking to enhance their security and control over ACH transactions. By implementing ACH positive pay, you’ll be able to make decisions on unusual ACH transactions before the money is removed from your account.
Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.
Better banking is here with up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.
Can I reverse an ACH payment?
While ACH payments are generally non-reversible, there are a few exceptions. You may be able to reverse an ACH payment in one of these scenarios: the payment was for the wrong dollar amount, the account number provided was incorrect, the payment due date was incorrect, or there was a duplicate payment.
To reverse an ACH payment, you typically need to contact your bank or financial institution within 24 hours of the transaction and provide them with the necessary information, such as the transaction details and the reason for the reversal. You typically need to pay a fee to have an ACH payment reversed.
Is positive pay only for checks?
No, positive pay is not only for checks. While positive pay is commonly associated with check fraud prevention, there are positive pay services available for other types of transactions, including ACH transactions.
ACH positive pay allows businesses to control which ACH transactions are allowed to post to their accounts, similar to how positive pay works for checks. With ACH positive pay, businesses can provide their bank with a list of authorized ACH transactions, and the bank only processes transactions that match the list.
What is an ACH block?
An ACH block is a security feature offered by banks that allows businesses to block all ACH transactions from posting to their accounts, except for those explicitly authorized. With an ACH block in place, any ACH transaction that does not match the list of authorized transactions will be rejected by the bank.
Photo credit: iStock/nortonrsx
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.
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.
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.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.