What are ACH Reversals?

What are ACH Reversals?

An Automated Clearing House (ACH) reversal is a transaction that cancels a previously authorized electronic funds transfer.

Can ACH payments be reversed?

Mistakes can occur when making ACH transfers, such as using an incorrect account number or sending the same payment twice. Thankfully, businesses can use an ACH reverse payment as a solution that should be used sparingly.

An ACH reversal or ACH reverse payment allows businesses and individuals to rectify errors or unauthorized transactions efficiently.

ACH reversals can be initiated by contacting the bank to stop, cancel, or recall a payment and filling out a Reversal Request form. A reversed ACH payment can be a saving grace for companies looking to avert potential complications.

ACH reversals, not to be confused with ACH returns, provide the means to undo ACH transactions and return the funds to the sender’s account. However, these reversals must follow a specific process.

7 steps to submit an ACH reversal

To submit an ACH reversal, you must follow several steps to ensure payments are refunded.

Here are seven steps to successfully reverse an ACH payment:

  • Identify error: The originator recognizes a mistake in a processed ACH payment, ranging from duplicate payments to incorrect amounts or recipients and technical errors.
  • Request reversal: The originator promptly contacts the financial institution to report the error and initiate an ACH reversal by providing detailed information about the erroneous transaction, specifying the nature of the error and the necessary corrective action.
  • Transfer information: The originator’s financial institution furnishes vital transaction details, error specifics, and the reversal request to the Receiving Depository Financial Institution (RDFI)
  • Initiate reversal: The Originating Depository Financial Institution (ODFI) kickstarts the ACH reversal process by transmitting a reversal entry through the ACH network, outlining the original transaction’s pertinent details that require reversal.
  • Notify recipient: The recipient’s financial institution receives the reversal entry and promptly informs the recipient about the reversal, clarifying that funds from the initial transaction will be adjusted or deducted.
  • Account adjustment: The RDFI processes the reversal, accurately rectifying the accounts of the payment originator and the recipient. This involves crediting previously debited funds or debiting previously credited funds, restoring both accounts to their pre-transaction state.
  • Confirm reversal: Upon completion of the ACH reversal, confirmations are issued to the payment originator and recipient, signifying the successful reversal of the erroneous transaction and confirming the adjustment made to the associated bank account.

What does the process of an ACH reversal look like in a real-world scenario?

ACH reversal transaction example

Imagine a scenario where a business makes an ACH payment for a service but either requests to stop automatic payments or encounters a data entry slip-up, sending funds to the wrong recipient.

In this situation, the payment originator swiftly contacts their bank and provides all necessary details to initiate an ACH recall. The bank will inform the recipient’s bank, and the bank will contact the recipient. The recipient is notified and may need to return the funds. ACH reversals typically take a few business days, but be prepared for possible delays if complications arise.

Remember, for a reversal to be valid, the payment must meet specific criteria outlined by NACHA. Be proactive and follow the proper steps to increase your chances of success. There may still be cases where the request isn’t successful, so consider alternative solutions if necessary.

Before submitting an ACH reversal, it’s essential to make sure you have a valid reason for this reversal.

What are ACH reversal reasons?

The National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) mandates the rules for ACH reversals. These transactions follow specific rules and guidelines to ensure accurate and efficient resolution of incorrect transactions.

There are several circumstances where a reverse may be initiated. To ensure you submit a valid ACH transfer reversal, here are the five current ACH reversal reasons:

  1. Duplicate entries: This error can occur if the payment sender inadvertently submits the same payment multiple times.
  2. Payments to the wrong receipt: If a payment uses an incorrect bank account or routing number, an ACH reversal can retrieve the funds to ensure they’re sent to the correct recipient.
  3. Incorrect payment amount: If the payment has a decimal point in the wrong place or the sender entered the wrong payment amount, an ACH reversal can rectify this error.
  4. Late payments: If a payment is submitted after the agreed-upon due date, an ACH credit reversal can correct this mistake so the payment is credited promptly.
  5. Early payment: If a payment is submitted ahead of schedule, an ACH debit reversal can adjust the timing of the transaction to align with the agreed-upon payment terms and ensure funds are processed at the correct time.

ACH reversals are only considered valid for the reasons above. Any attempts to reverse ACH transfers outside the NACHA guidelines will likely be invalid. Other ACH reversal rules include submitting a Reversal request form to the bank within 24 hours of detecting the error and no later than five banking days after the settlement.

It’s also the responsibility of the payment originator to notify the recipient that a reversal is in progress to ensure transparent communication throughout the process.

So, how long does a reversal take?

How long does an ACH reversal take?

While the ACH reversal timeframe can vary, it typically takes a few business days for a reversal to be complete.

The ACH reversal process can fluctuate depending on the policies and procedures of the financial institutions involved and may be impacted by weekends and holidays. For the most accurate information about processing times, you should contact your bank or financial institution directly.

Regardless of the ACH reversal timeline, it’s essential to use this time to communicate with the affected customers and work with the bank to expedite the resolution process. You can also evaluate and adjust your internal procedures to minimize ACH reversals.

Effectively manage transactions to minimize ACH reversals

While reversing ACH payments can be helpful, too many reversals can impact your company’s reputation, potentially signaling concerns to potential business partners.

It’s best practice to enforce preventative measures to identify any errors in the payment process before initiating a reversal, as this is a situation you generally want to avoid. If a business makes a mistake, an ACH reversal is an effective solution to rectify an incorrect account number or a duplicate payment.

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From direct deposit to bill payments, the ACH network shapes the landscape of electronic fund transfers. ACH extends its influence across various areas to move funds between businesses, individuals, and financial institutions.