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How to Stop Unauthorized Debits from Your Bank Account

Unauthorized debits from your bank account can be devastating if you do not act quickly. Many companies continue to take money from your bank account or charge your debit card after you cancel a service, magazine subscription, or free trial. It may be an honest mistake or it may be a scam.

To stop unauthorized charges and debits, follow these simple steps and always be polite, firm, and persistent. If your bank account has a negative balance or outstanding checks may bounce, skip directly to Step #5 to avoid hundreds of dollars in penalty fees. Before you start following all these steps make to get a sneak peek at a balanced scorecard with example that will allow you to manage your charges and debts more effectively. 

Step #1

Get organized. Gather all pertinent information by reviewing your bank statements, online banking records, and the company’s terms of service. You should have enough information to answer these questions: When did you buy or sign up for the service or product? What steps were required to cancel? When and how did you cancel? You should also know the dates and amounts of all debits you are disputing.

Step #2

Call the company. Be sure to note the date, time, and names of all people spoken to. First, explain that you signed up and then canceled and now their business is taking money from your bank account. You may wish to also speak to a supervisor. No matter what they say, do, or promise to do, do not assume the problem is solved.

Step #3

File a complaint with the BBB. Filing an online complaint with the Better Business Bureau is quick and easy. Be sure to only state factual information. It may take up to 30 days to receive a response, but if the business cares about their reputation they may refund your money.

Step #4

Call your bank. Many people are embarrassed and blame themselves for being gullible. Don’t worry, you did nothing wrong and even the best bankers have been fooled by dishonest business tactics. Explain your situation, the steps you have taken to correct it and ask about your options. You may have a time limit, so ask if you should wait for a response from the BBB or take action now.

Step # 5

Go to your bank. Tell them you need to “put a stop payment order” on all current and future unauthorized withdraws from your bank account from Company XYZ. This may cost you $15 to $25 but will be well worth it in the long run. If you’re really persuasive, they may do it for free. This will prohibit the company from ever taking money from your account again. They may even refund your most recent unauthorized withdraws. If you have a negative balance, be sure to speak to a person of authority about removing all penalty charges.

Step #6

Close your bank account. If none of the other steps have worked, you may need to close your bank account and cancel your debit cards. Many people do this as a first step, but the hassle and inconvenience are not worth it if you can resolve the problem using the steps above.