Holding Down the ACH Fort: Tips for Backup Staff

Amy Donaghue

By: Christine Harris, AAP, APRP, NCP, Senior Manager, Member Support

Summer is in full swing, and for some of us, that means fun at the beach, road trips with family or even a good old staycation. But while some folks are out enjoying sunshine and picnics, others are holding down the fort back at the financial institution. And sometimes those folks are performing tasks outside their normal duties and maybe even outside their comfort zone. While we hope there are procedures in place to help these fill-in heroes, that’s not always the case. So why not take a few moments to cheer on those who make our summer fun possible and give them some basic payment processing guidelines to bolster those unfamiliar procedures?

During this two-part series, we are covering tips for handling everyday ACH and check handling situations that are the center of frequent questions to EPCOR’s Member Support team. You may even want to print them so your backup staff members can have a handy cheat sheet within fingertip reach!

ACH Handling Tips for Backup Staff

Line in the Sand - Stop Payment vs. Written Statement of Unauthorized Debit (WSUD)

This one can cause confusion even for some of the more veteran players in the ACH Network. The simplest explanation of how to decide which option is appropriate is to say – generally speaking – that stop payments are to be used when a transaction has not yet posted to an account, while the WSUD is used after the transaction has hit the account. Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.

  • Transaction has not posted - If Hap E. Camper comes in on the 12th and states his timeshare payment will be coming out on the 15th, but he doesn’t want to pay them this month, you can place a stop payment on that transaction. Or, if he’s decided to stop all future payments, you can utilize a stop payment in that instance as well (be sure to clarify which option he wants when the form is being completed).
  • Transaction has posted - In this scene, Mr. Camper comes in on the 17th and states that he sees a debit to his account, but he had previously contacted the timeshare company and told them to quit debiting him. You would need his signature on a WSUD and to return the Entry as an R07 (Authorization Revoked).

One clarification – a stop payment can be put in place for an Entry that has been memo-posted but not yet hard-posted if your system and/or procedures will allow it.

Mosquitos, Gnats and Ants – Oh My!

Here are some further quick tips for common situations that may bug you on your vacation watch:

  • Name Mismatch on ACH Entry – if the name on the incoming ACH transaction does not match the name on the account, and you catch this prior to the item posting, you can return it using Return Reason Code R03. If it is brought to your attention after the item has posted and outside of the 2-day return window, you have options, depending on the circumstances. If it is a credit and your account holder tells you to return it, you can do so using Return Reason Code R23. If it’s a debit that your account holder tells you is unauthorized, use R10 or R11 for a consumer account, or R29 if it’s a non-consumer account.
  • Deceased Beneficiaries and Federal Government Benefits – if the Beneficiary has passed away, and after they die, they receive a Social Security, Veteran’s Administration or other covered federal government benefit payment, you should return the credit. Family members can be told that the financial institution is required to return the money and that if the issuing agency determines that the deceased’s family is due the funds, they will be returned to them later. You would use R15 to return the Entry (unless it's a Representative Payee situation and the Representative Payee is who has passed away – then you would use Return Reason Code R14). If the Beneficiary passes away the same day that the payment is received, it does not need to be returned.
  • Prenotes – If the financial institution receives a prenotification Entry, it must confirm that the account number on the prenote is valid. If it is not, it must either be returned or a notification of change (NOC) must be sent. NOCs are optional and not required; if the financial institution instead chooses to simply return the prenote (R03 if the name does not match or the account number is not valid, R02 if the account is closed, R04 if the account structure is invalid), then no further action must be taken.
  • Debit Times Two – If your account holder sees a debit hit their account twice, don’t be tempted to use the R24 (Duplicate Entry) Return Reason Code to return it, unless you see that both Entries have the exact same trace number (this is fairly uncommon!) If the consumer has truly been debited twice for the same amount/same merchant but the trace numbers don’t match, you’ll want to return one of the Entries as R11 with a signed WSUD. The consumer did authorize ONE transaction, but not two, so the second one is truly unauthorized.

There may be other troublesome situations that arise as you valiantly hold down the proverbial fort, and if so, don’t forget you can reach EPCOR Member Support live during business hours (7:30 am to 4:30 PM CT) via phone (800.500.0100), email (memserve@epcor.org), or by chatting on our website at www.epcor.org.

Your colleagues thank you for being there for them when they have their summer fun, and we all hope you get to have some summer fun in turn. Don’t forget your sunscreen and tune in next week for check handling tips!