Is ACH Billpay risky?

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mediahound
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Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by mediahound »

So far, I've never done ACH billpay (where you set it up with the payee to pull from your checking account). I've only done the type of billpay where I log in to my bank's website and issue a payment there. The bank even allows me to schedule automatic recurring payments there. They either electronically pay, or send a check if it's a smaller company.

It seems like ACH billpay may be riskier if the property management or mortage company changes but the old ACH billpay order is still in there and the old company still continues taking money, as an example.

If I'm pushing a payment myself from my bank's website, I'm in control whereas I'm not as in control of payments that automatically get pulled by payees.

Is there merit to my worries?
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samsoes
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by samsoes »

mediahound wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:52 pm If I'm pushing a payment myself from my bank's website, I'm in control whereas I'm not as in control of payments that automatically get pulled by payees.
Exactly this. I always "push" from my checking account. I never allow anyone to get their hands into my money.

No preauthorized ACH pulls, ever.

(I understand that checks to some payees are oftentimes reduced to a one-time ACH payment. But a check number is required to be part of that ACH transaction.)
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Dick D
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Dick D »

i use ACH for utilities and townhouse monthly maintenance fee. I am sure there is some risk as there is with crossing the street, driving a car, or investing.
pdavi21
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by pdavi21 »

The riskier part is not signing up for autopay and having to pay a late fee...but always use credit cards if available.
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UpperNwGuy
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

I always pull instead of push, but I do it manually with only a few exceptions. I don't like autopayments of any kind.
Topic Author
mediahound
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by mediahound »

pdavi21 wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:37 pm The riskier part is not signing up for autopay and having to pay a late fee..
Indeed. I’m petty good about paying bills though. I even prepay my utility bill if I know I will be out of town. They’re good about carrying over any overpayment to the next month.
sandramjet
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by sandramjet »

I have been doing both kinds for over 20 years now. The only time I have ever had a problem has been with the "push" kind, where my bank said it sent a payment, the receiving party said it never got it. Since I wasn't doing a "pull", the receiving party said it was up to me and my bank to resolve it. I have never had an ACH issue, so I am frankly more inclined to go with that now, since the receiver is responsible for it.
That being said, I do check my bank statements every month to see that things line up as expected.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by unclescrooge »

samsoes wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:19 pm
mediahound wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:52 pm If I'm pushing a payment myself from my bank's website, I'm in control whereas I'm not as in control of payments that automatically get pulled by payees.
Exactly this. I always "push" from my checking account. I never allow anyone to get their hands into my money.

No preauthorized ACH pulls, ever.

(I understand that checks to some payees are oftentimes reduced to a one-time ACH payment. But a check number is required to be part of that ACH transaction.)
You don't need a pre-authorization for an ACH.

Anyone with your account number can use it to pull money from your account.
trueblueky
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by trueblueky »

I push recurring monthly bills. I push irregular bills (e.g., doctor) as well. I don't write many checks.

I pay the city water bill, which fluctuates by up to six dollars from one month to the next, automatically by credit card. I get that bill in advance of the payment.

I do not pay with cell phone. I know, Luddite.

I do not allow auto-renew of magazines, newspapers and such.
obgraham
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by obgraham »

At least 15 years in, I've never seen a problem with pull payments. I'm dealing with reputable companies. If there was an error and they somehow drew an excess or double payment, the chain of data is very clear, and I'm sure they would resolve it quickly. As others point out, though, it is important to keep a check on electronic payments.

Now, pulls by some individual or dodgy company that I'll never use again --- more caution. I have a separate credit card for that sort of thing.

One item of interest this month: I scheduled a hefty tax payment to the IRS on April 15. They took their money out before 12:30am that day, EDT, which was still the 14th where I live!
MikeG62
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by MikeG62 »

I suppose it depends to whom you are giving your bank account information.

I use ACH (pull) for my CC payments (all other than store brand cards are set to auto pay). I also use ACH (pull) for my DW and my auto lease payments (they won't accept a CC as payment) as well as for our Cell Phone bill (larger discount for auto pay to bank account). The account being direct debited is our checking account - stand alone at large B&M bank. I also have alerts set up to be notified (by e-mail) of every debit and credit posted to my checking account. I would quickly know if something was amiss. Never had a single problem and been doing it this way for many years.
Last edited by MikeG62 on Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee »

sandramjet wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:58 pm I have been doing both kinds for over 20 years now. The only time I have ever had a problem has been with the "push" kind, where my bank said it sent a payment, the receiving party said it never got it. Since I wasn't doing a "pull", the receiving party said it was up to me and my bank to resolve it. I have never had an ACH issue, so I am frankly more inclined to go with that now, since the receiver is responsible for it.
That being said, I do check my bank statements every month to see that things line up as expected.
That happened to me one time with a push. I spoke with the payee and they agreed if my bank sent them proof it was paid that meant it was their error. My bank was very cooperative. Following up, it turned out upon inquiry the payee's bank had already sent proof the payment came in to their account.

My one experience, of course, does not mean nothing ever can go wrong.

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DetroitRick
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by DetroitRick »

I don't believe so. Even errors and fraud are relatively easy to get corrected quickly at any good bank. Mailing checks has risk too (I should know, I've had 2 big checks get lost in the mail this year and so have gone from 80% online payments to 99% online payments). Checks can be stolen and easily washed, or just misplaced during handling.

I primarily use credit cards for paying bills (just under half of which are auto pays), except where it's not economical (like property taxes where the fee here is too high for me). Which gives me both rebates and extra time to fix things if anything ever goes wrong (hasn't yet, knock on wood ...). But everything else is ACH (mainly pull, a few push), with only 2 exceptions (where I still use checks). I have always found ACH to be reliable.

But in the end, risk depends on everything that you do. Transaction and account alerts are key - easy to set-up and relatively maintenance free. This is a risk, then, that you can help control. I won't ever go back to checks.

Edited to add - on the auto-pay angle (ACH or credit card), in addition to convenience, I'm also finding some vendors giving big enough discounts to make it worth my while. Examples - T-Mobile ($10 per month), trash hauler (3% quarterly), and my auto insurer.
Last edited by DetroitRick on Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
michaeljc70
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by michaeljc70 »

Yes, I think it is riskier but it is also easier as I don't have to do anything. I am trying to think of a scenario where I've either had problems or think I would have problems with auto ACH and AT&T, Comcast and media subscription companies come to mind that have poor customer service. Luckily, Comcast supports credit cards for autopay so I do that. I only do auto ACH as a last resort. I have auto ACH setup for all my credit cards.
kaneohe
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by kaneohe »

It's a personal decision balancing the possible bad consequences vs convenience. You also need to know the probability of bad consequences which is difficult to know. I put as many bills as possible on autopay to cc and then have the cc paid by auto-ACH pull by the cc companies.
I have done this for many yrs (decades) and have never had a problem w/ the cc companies. I like putting the burden of timely payments on the cc companies tho I have the burden of making sure the funds are available. If you are on vacation traveling, the convenience is very nice.

Some companies resist paying to cc so those are paid from checking acct by auto-ACH........usually these are medical insurance type companies..........medical/Rx/Dental........and the gas utility company. Have only had 1 problem here in many yrs..........the Rx drug
company took a one-time random charge totally different from the normal monthly charge. Got no help or even concern from that company so went to the credit union who had me fill out a form and then promptly retrieved the funds.

The only other problem I have had is with a link to a mutual fund company to deposit monthly distributions into my account. Through some error, they once decided that I had enrolled in a monthly investment program and withdrew funds instead, lowering the balance so that a number of checks bounced. Fortunately they were were cooperative and the error was fixed and the bank waived the bounced check fees.

So stuff can happen but it can be fixed with some learning and effort. If you are super-human and never make a mistake and are paranoid about others making mistakes, don't do it. If you value the convenience and don't mind an occasional booboo, then consider it.
You might want to talk to your bank and ask them what they would do if an error happened. Another useful feature would be a bank account with attached limited line of credit that could be tapped if you normally carry low balances and an error happened.
28fe6
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by 28fe6 »

I was always a fan of pull ACH for irregular bills, but last month I got a $1000 water bill. It simply must be some sort of mistake, but nevertheless the money was deducted from my account already. Now instead of disputing a bill or a credit card charge I have to try to get my money back from an unmotivated city government. That's the risk you pay with pull ACH auto bill pay.
mpsz
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by mpsz »

I have everything auto bill my credit card, and then allow the credit cards to automatically pay in full by pulling from my checking account.

I was hesitant to allow credit cards to pull from my account, but you have the time from a transaction occurs to the next statement's due date (~4 weeks at a minimum) to dispute any charges. I'm okay with that.

I would never ever allow a shady business like Comcast, or even worse, a gym or MoviePass to pull from my checking account directly. Just the cards and anything else like rent, car, etc. is "pushed" from my bank's bill pay.
clown
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by clown »

I spent 30+ years in the banking industry. When ACH transactions became commonplace many years ago, there were new Federal regulations put in place to protect consumers from the extremely rare problems. Talk to your banker and ask for an explanation about Regulation E. Alternatively, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroni ... nsfer_Act or https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddoc ... chment.pdf and read for yourself.

A brief quote from the Federal Reserve website: " The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) (15 USC 1693 et seq.) of 1978 is intended to protect individual consumers engaging in electronic fund transfers (EFTs). Ehe Federal Reserve Board (Board) implements EFTA through Regulation E, which includes an official staff commentary."

The bottom line is that the law and regulations are written to be to the advantage of consumers. This is consumer protection regulation.
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mediahound
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by mediahound »

clown wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:23 pm I spent 30+ years in the banking industry. When ACH transactions became commonplace many years ago, there were new Federal regulations put in place to protect consumers from the extremely rare problems. Talk to your banker and ask for an explanation about Regulation E. Alternatively, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroni ... nsfer_Act or https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddoc ... chment.pdf and read for yourself.

A brief quote from the Federal Reserve website: " The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) (15 USC 1693 et seq.) of 1978 is intended to protect individual consumers engaging in electronic fund transfers (EFTs). Ehe Federal Reserve Board (Board) implements EFTA through Regulation E, which includes an official staff commentary."

The bottom line is that the law and regulations are written to be to the advantage of consumers. This is consumer protection regulation.
Frankly, those regulations sound like they don't cover much. From your first link:
The EFT Act does not apply to all preauthorized plans. The EFT Act does not apply to automatic transfers from any account held in the name of the institution the consumer uses to the account the consumer uses.
An example of this would be where the EFT Act would not apply to any automatic payments put towards a mortgage held by the financial institution where a consumer would hold their electronic funds account.
The EFT Act would also not apply to automatic transfers among a consumer’s account at a specific financial institution.
The EFT Act also does not cover all transfers. Some banks, other financial institutions, and vendors will produce cards with a cash value imprinted into the card itself
Examples of these include public transit passes, store gift cards, and prepaid telephone cards. These cards may not be covered by the EFT Act.
When using electronic funds transfer, the Act does not give the consumer the right to stop payment.
State law or any contract that imposes a lower liability limit than those mentioned in the “Loss or Theft: Customer Liability” will be preempted (overridden) by the federal EFT Act unless the state law provides protections that are greater than that provided under Federal law. (See Section 919 of the Act).
meebers
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by meebers »

I have been doing ACH for +20 years without a problem. (knock, knock) Some utilities will only take payments from checking, while others will charge to credit cards without a fee, while others will charge a fee for CC's. I get at least one activity email per day from each financial bank/CU's. Almost instantly when doing transacting with i.e. ebay will trigger paypal and my CC. About 3 day notice when utilities will pull a payment, when CC will be paid and then the day before, and the day of. Download to Quicken each day and log in every 3 days or so to the accounts just to "poke" around.

I once went in person to my credit union and arranged a payment for an exact amount, checked the day after and they sent my entire balance instead. I had "close encounters" :shock: with the manager resulting in immediate correction and interest for the lost 2 days.

Had an experience when I was several states away from my home base and stopped in a gas station to fill up and my phone rang when I was about half way filling the tank and it was my CC fraud department notifying me that my card was in use at pump #6 in at store xx in town xx. I told them that it was me, but by this time the CC had already been canceled and a new one on the way. :x
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by RickBoglehead »

Worrying about ACH payments is silly. My checking account only has enough funds to cover pending bills, I do 3 or 4 transfers per month to fund it. I don't live in fear.

I put everything on my credit card that I can, including some utilities. Verizon now does ACH. My gas company. Mortgage, credit cards, auto loan, water bill, state and federal taxes, life insurance.
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Spirit Rider
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Spirit Rider »

I have done the following for the past 20+ years.
  • Credit cards: Always pull, auto pay minimum, schedule full payment or balance depending on specific issuers policy. I have never had a problem.
  • Recurring payments: First choice credit card payment, bill pay push if fee for CC payment (first choice ACH, check if not possible), never ACH pull (too many problems with utilities over the years).
drawpoker
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by drawpoker »

Spirit Rider wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:11 pm
.......[*]Credit cards: Always pull, ........
Same here. Reason being, after scheduling a payment, I get that reassuring email a few minutes later (except with my new Fidelity Visa Card :annoyed ) confirming all detail of scheduled payment. IF, somehow they screw up, pull the $$ late, I can get off the hook and prove it was their goof, not mine.

This is what I call the "important stuff" - a mis-step that could cause a ding on credit report.

For all the other less "important" stuff - town water bill, cable TV, cell phone, odds and ends like landscaper or home repair person, I push the money from bank's bill-pay. IF the bank should screw up, consequences there would be less dire.

(I suppose I could go to the bother & extra work of printing out the page showing the bank's bill-pay log of scheduled payments every few weeks, Ugh. Reason I don't - really don't think that would be considered legally binding as proof. If we got into a dispute. Unlike the email messages from the cc companies, which can't disappear later if its convenient for them.)

Just a worry-Wart, nervous Nellie, paranoia Polly here..... :happy
Admiral
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Admiral »

Push not pull, for anything.

Control freak.

However I do have many things (mortgage, some utils) on Autopay. Even for things like Water, Cable etc where the payments are never exactly the same, I just autopay an amount that I know will be high enough to cover it, and then they credit the overpayment on the next bill. Also round numbers are easier. Occasionally I adjust the payments manually so they are exactly right but not always.
bac
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by bac »

I permit ACH pulls only for credit card payments, my municipality for property taxes and water/sewer, and the natural gas utility.

Only problem I've had was when Barclayscard tried to pull $29,400 from my checking account a few years ago. Quite a shock when I checked my account online one morning, as I do most mornings. My bank was good about it, and told me the cardholder was someone with a name nowhere near mine, but required me to visit my branch and sign and affidavit; I don't know what I would have done if I had been traveling or otherwise unable to visit a branch immediately.

While I had a hotel-branded card from Barclayscard, there had been no activity in my account for months and the credit limit was nowhere near $29,400. When Barclays couldn't explain what happened, I canceled my card.
miamivice
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by miamivice »

mediahound wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:52 pm So far, I've never done ACH billpay (where you set it up with the payee to pull from your checking account). I've only done the type of billpay where I log in to my bank's website and issue a payment there. The bank even allows me to schedule automatic recurring payments there. They either electronically pay, or send a check if it's a smaller company.

It seems like ACH billpay may be riskier if the property management or mortage company changes but the old ACH billpay order is still in there and the old company still continues taking money, as an example.

If I'm pushing a payment myself from my bank's website, I'm in control whereas I'm not as in control of payments that automatically get pulled by payees.

Is there merit to my worries?
I have no qualms with ACH Billpay with bills that I absolutely, positively will have to pay. For example, credit cards, mortgage, power company, daycare, and the like.

I do not to ACH Billpay with entities that I might want the opportunity to not pay because I am mad at them, for example HOA dues to our HOA.

All other bills are paid using the bank's billpay service which is checked based and not ACH based.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by cheese_breath »

I've used it for my utilities and insurance ever since it became available. But I only keep about a month's expenses in that account anyway. So it won't bankrupt me even if someone does manage to take an illegal withdrawal.
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bberris
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by bberris »

Risky compared to what? Writing a check? All the information necessary to draw from your checking account (routing and account numbers) is on that check.
DrGoogle2017
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by DrGoogle2017 »

I only do a push, no pull of anything. But when I’m older, I think I would suggest to my daughter to prepay utilities for a year at a time, so it will make it easy on her. Only one thing to watch is the credit card payment.
Last edited by DrGoogle2017 on Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
infotrader
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by infotrader »

I never push it, but always pull. Never have any problems.
Recently, I used Amazon Prime to prepay my utility bills for a year to get the 5%.
For me, most of the "common wisdoms" are wrong: I use credit wherever I can, even for under a dollar purchases, and only have 20 dollars cash in wallet.
diy60
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by diy60 »

I have been doing ACH pulls for many years without a single problem, and have recurring pulls set up. But I also use my bank savings account as a place holder for several months worth of bills and transfer over the funds monthly to my checking account for the ACH transactions.

My electric bill is the only exception to ACH payments, I pay the electric by check each month. It's the only utility bill that has been screwed up multiple times in the past.
stan1
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by stan1 »

All of our bills from utilities and credit cards are set up for auto pay using ACH pulls and have been that way for 20+ years now. Never had a problem and don't expect to have one in the future. We never keep more than a few thousand dollars in the checking account we use to pay bills. If my electric company was hacked or their software pulled $10,000 instead of $100 my losses would be limited. If we were to hear reports of rampant fraud issues of course we'd do something different.

We find ACH pulls much more convenient than ACH pushes. I think its a personal preference which one you use. I don't think either is risky. Some people don't leave their house during rush hour traffic because they think its safer to drive in the middle of the day. I don't live my life that way.

In fact if you consider the alternative to be mailing paper checks I think ACH bill pay is much safer. I can see a lot of scenarios where a paper check is intercepted maliciously or accidentally lost.
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by willthrill81 »

pdavi21 wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:37 pm The riskier part is not signing up for autopay and having to pay a late fee...but always use credit cards if available.
That's what we do. The only ACH transfers we've authorized are for utilities, insurance, and a car note. Everything else is paid automatically via a credit card.

I refuse to use a debit card for anything, ever. There's literally no good reason for it, and the risk can be high.
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stan1
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by stan1 »

While I do ACH pulls for utilities, credit card payments, and tax payments I'd never ever do an ACH pull for something like a recurring gym membership or even a charity. Too hard to stop.
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by scrabbler1 »

I do automatic ACH pulls for most of my recurring monthly bulls and have done so without incident since the early 1990s. This was very helpful 4 years ago when I was in the hospital for 12 days. I had a few bills due in those 12 days which got paid seamlessly. Those recurring monthly bills are the smaller ones I always pay from my local bank's checking account. (I recently set up those bills for my 88-year-old dad after he ended up in the hospital and I had to scramble to pay several of them without incurring any late fees.)

For my irregular bills, many of which tend to be larger and have a longer time between their issuance and due dates (i.e. car insurance), I use a different means. I may initiate a one-time pull from the vendor's website, or pay it using my credit card.

One regular bill I can't use a pull, so I use a push from my local bank who mails out a check. Another one I initiate a pull every month although I may switch that to automatic. My credit card's bill varies a lot from month to month, so I initiate the transfer from my local bank's checking account to the CC (same bank, so I use online banking). I want to keep control over this one because if the bill were really big, I'd have to use outside funds to pay it.

I'm glad I have all of these different options, depending on my need.
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midareff
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by midareff »

mediahound wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:52 pm So far, I've never done ACH billpay (where you set it up with the payee to pull from your checking account). I've only done the type of billpay where I log in to my bank's website and issue a payment there. The bank even allows me to schedule automatic recurring payments there. They either electronically pay, or send a check if it's a smaller company.

It seems like ACH billpay may be riskier if the property management or mortage company changes but the old ACH billpay order is still in there and the old company still continues taking money, as an example.

If I'm pushing a payment myself from my bank's website, I'm in control whereas I'm not as in control of payments that automatically get pulled by payees.

Is there merit to my worries?

I've used ACH bill pay for every payment where it is allowed, especially for credit cards as we charge everything that can be put on cards for the cash back. I would say in the last 15 years there has been one error that was reversed in 48 hours... out of probably 10 hits a month.
ncbill
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by ncbill »

No pulls.

Credit card for all I possibly can for the cash back, ACH push for the rest.
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by kevinpet »

mediahound wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:52 pmIt seems like ACH billpay may be riskier if the property management or mortage company changes but the old ACH billpay order is still in there and the old company still continues taking money, as an example.
I share your preference for real bill through my bank, but I don't think there's much actual risk. Generally, if some system has a flaw that would result in millions of people having financial problems, I don't worry much about it because the system will adapt to handle that risk.
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Trader Joe »

mediahound wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:52 pm So far, I've never done ACH billpay (where you set it up with the payee to pull from your checking account). I've only done the type of billpay where I log in to my bank's website and issue a payment there. The bank even allows me to schedule automatic recurring payments there. They either electronically pay, or send a check if it's a smaller company.

It seems like ACH billpay may be riskier if the property management or mortage company changes but the old ACH billpay order is still in there and the old company still continues taking money, as an example.

If I'm pushing a payment myself from my bank's website, I'm in control whereas I'm not as in control of payments that automatically get pulled by payees.

Is there merit to my worries?
I have never had any issue with ACH. Best of luck.
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mediahound
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by mediahound »

Some things that haven't been mentioned here that I've since thought about are that most banks guarantee their billpay service. For example mine states:
You can be assured that your electronic payments are safe and reliable. When your payments are processed you are protected in the unlikely event of unauthorized transactions or processing delays.
and they say they will even reimburse any late fees if a payment arrives late, although I've never had that happen.

The other factor is to me, the more third-party entities with my checking account & routing number, the more exposed I feel to potential fraud or errors.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

I used to push almost exclusively. Now I pull almost exclusively. Seems so much simpler.

Never had an issue with a pull. Had a couple of issues with a push, but that was years ago so not a valid comparison.
mariezzz
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by mariezzz »

I pay everything I can with a credit card, and I arrange that monthly - nothing is automatic. One advantage is it helps you remember to review the charges and make sure they are legitimate.
Only mortgage is an automatic pull from bank account, and that's only because it my mortgage interest would be higher without that.

I think allowing any organization to automatically charge payments to a credit card is a huge mistake, and it's an even bigger mistake to allow that with a bank account. Too many stories of headaches with lengthy problems getting such payments cancelled.

Absolutely agree with the comment a few posts up that debit cards are a huge risk and are to be avoided. I've asked my bank accounts to replace them with ATM-only cards. I never use debit cards. Credit cards give you far better consumer protections.
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mediahound
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by mediahound »

Just ran across this from Clark Howard. It seems to outline the risks of using ACH pull well:

https://clark.com/personal-finance-cred ... monthly-b/
lazydavid
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by lazydavid »

willthrill81 wrote: Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:44 am I refuse to use a debit card for anything, ever. There's literally no good reason for it, and the risk can be high.
Yup, we've gone so far to ensure we never have one. Once a bank "helpfully" sent us one to replace an ATM card, and I immediately called to have it cancelled and my account notated that they were to never issue another. But I guess that was a long time ago because I haven't had an ATM card in probably 2 decades. :)

Like most, I have as many things as possible set up as CC autopay. Paying off the CCs is done by a manual pull. Insurance and one loan payment, along with some regular-interval investments are auto pull. Everything else is paper check (probably 4/month), no pushes.
ThriftyPhD
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by ThriftyPhD »

A friend of mine set up autopay with several companies, where the companies could pull the money from my friend's checking account each month to pay the bill.

One month, the local water company pulled many times more than they were supposed to, and cleared out the account. Several other bills and checks followed soon after, all of which bounced because the account was empty. The bank said it wasn't their problem (which it wasn't). The water company took weeks to figure it out, in the meantime they were without money and piling up late fees elsewhere.

I'm not sure what the final resolution was, if the fees were forgiven or if the company paid them (I doubt it), but after seeing the nightmare they went through I am very hesitant to give a company access to pull money out of my checking or savings accounts.

I did have a few accounts (student loans) where there was a financial incentive to letting them setup ACH autopay (lower interest rate), so I directed it to an account that held just enough money to cover those payments, keeping the bulk of my funds elsewhere.

Pushing from my checking bill pay is more than easy enough, I'm much more worried about a screwup on the end of the company I'm paying than on my inability to setup a payment.
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goodenyou
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by goodenyou »

OK. I just changed my automatic ACH ('pull') payment. Y'all have sufficiently scared me. Thanks for the heads up.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" | “Do you know how to make a rain dance work? Dance until it rains”
Broken Man 1999
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

28fe6 wrote: Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:16 pm I was always a fan of pull ACH for irregular bills, but last month I got a $1000 water bill. It simply must be some sort of mistake, but nevertheless the money was deducted from my account already. Now instead of disputing a bill or a credit card charge I have to try to get my money back from an unmotivated city government. That's the risk you pay with pull ACH auto bill pay.
I use ACH pulls that are automatic, but none pull any $$$ without me receiving an email stating who, how much, and when funds will be removed from my account.

One of the pulls is for my city utilities.

You might want to see if alerts are/can be sent for your review.

I have used automatic pulls for years and years, and never had an issue. However, I do review every alert I receive.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Is ACH Billpay risky?

Post by Mr. Rumples »

I use ACH for my county water/sewer and my electricity. I do that since the county of course is a public entity and the electric company is regulated by the Commonwealth. I recall a presentation from EastPay before I retired. They were the eastern US regional ACH group (they have since merged with another one). ACH is regulated and continued violations will result in the cancelation of their ACH through the clearinghouse which is private. There are 11 regional payment associations in the US. A company doesn't just go to the bank, they access the account through a clearinghouse.

https://fiscal.treasury.gov/ach/

I recall when I lived in Denver and the HOA changed management companies. It was a mess and included that mess was the HOA fee being pulled by both management companies for one month. A call to wesPay got it fixed fast. Companies don't want to be blocked from the clearinghouse.
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