How often should you typically monitor your checking account? There is no straight answer to this question as every account is different, but we could definitely say, check it more often than you do now.
When you pay for a product or a service with a credit or debit card, money is taken from your account. Similarly, when you are paid for a service, money is transferred into your account.
The advent of online and mobile banking made it faster and easier to check and keep track of any credit and debit transactions you commit.
Yet, with this supposed ease of access comes danger equal fold. As technology has become smarter and quicker, fraudsters and hackers have found sneaky ways to infiltrate secure banking networks.
They can steal information through a magnetic strip present on your credit or debit cards or even use more elaborate methods to further their schemes.
Frequent in-and-out movement of money can raise the eyebrows of potential thieves and can increase chances of fraud.
Fraudsters or potential thieves could target an account that isn’t static. Constant use of credit or debit cards, especially cards with a magnetic strip present on them, can increase information leaks’ chances.
A corrupted terminal could take more money than the stated amount on your purchase, and you wouldn’t know until you check your account.
But how often should you check your account to make sure you don’t fall victim to card fraud or identify theft? Should you check it after every transaction? Every day? Every week? What should be the frequency of your checking? Let’s find out.
What Is A Checking Account anyway?
A checking account is a bank account that allows the account holder to deposit and withdraw money.
It is also known as a transactional or demand account. Checking accounts place no time limits on your access to your money.
You can deposit and withdraw money anytime you want to. A checking account is meant for everyday use.
A checking account at a bank allows you to write checks to pay for bills, purchases, and other goods. It also allows you to withdraw cash using an ATM card or debit card.
But keep in mind that some banks place monthly and daily limits on ATM withdrawals.
Your bank will provide you with a sheaf of checks when you open an account with them.
Checks are written orders that people use to withdraw money from an account or transfer money from one account to another. When you have checks, you don’t have to carry cash around with you.
There are several types of checking accounts. Some of the most common are basic checking accounts, which a person uses to check bills or pay everyday expenses.
Interest-bearing accounts allow the holder to collect interest on the amount deposited in the account, but have a minimum deposit limit.
Joint checking accounts, as the name implies, allow two people to own a single account.
These accounts help increase the mobility of money. You can pay for anything from anywhere.
Nowadays, many banks allow a consumer to conduct all kinds of transactions online.
This makes online shopping, bill payments, and purchasing of goods easier, especially during a pandemic.
Reasons Why You Should Monitor Your Checking Account
The transfer from magnetic stripe cards to chip-credit cards secured card-present transactions.
Fraud rates dropped because chip cards were harder to imitate and skim than magnetic stripe cards.
Unfortunately, some merchants, due to many reasons, still do not accept chip-cards. Hence, currently, almost every card issued by any bank comes with a magnetic strip on its back.
The problem with magnetic stripe cards is that they can easily be skimmed, thereby increasing card fraud chances.
Credit card fraud can lead to identity theft, a whole new can of worms. There are many ways fraudsters can get into your account, but skimming, fraudulent credit reports, phishing, and hacking are some of the most common.
We need to secure our transactions and keep an eye on them to ensure we don’t incur any losses.
Is fraud the only reason you should monitor your account? Honestly, there are many reasons to monitor your checking account, some of which are identity theft and suspicious transactions, but fraud is the best of them.
Keeping an eye on your transactions can help you secure your financial life.
1. Guard Against Credit Card Fraud
As technology has progressed, so has thievery. It is harder to protect online bank details than ever before.
In the past decade, massive information breaches have exposed thousands of peoples’ personal information to fraudsters.
In 2018, almost 40% of American people reported that they had fallen victim to credit card fraud, catapulting the U.S to the envious position of being the most credit fraud-prone country in the world.
Similarly, a survey conducted by The Ascent on American credit card preferences with a pool of 1,000 people found out that 35% of them had been victims of credit card fraud, with Baby Boomers contributing the largest to the percentage.
In 2018, the U.S lost $24 billion due to credit card fraud. This loss didn’t just harm customers: it harmed banks, merchants, and small businesses.
What’s worse is that this statistic is predicted to rise by $10 billion in the following three years.
This means that even more people will be affected by this rising catastrophe in the following years.
Monitoring your checking account can help you spot suspicious activity and can potentially prevent any financial losses before they happen.
Check your account for any abnormal transactions, unauthorized fund transfers, and excessive billing. Not monitoring your account can have deadly consequences.
For example, if you swipe a corrupt card on a terminal, a fraudster may get your personal account information.
They can then use this information to make purchases that may go unnoticed if you don’t check your account more frequently.
If their purchase goes through, presuming you don’t have any bank alerts enabled, then the fraudster can make larger purchases against your account.
2. Guard Against Identity Theft
Identity theft is facilitated by credit card fraud. It happens when someone uses another person’s credentials and personal information to make a transaction.
If somebody discovers your account number, PIN, and security code, they can use it to make purchases without any other requirements of proving their identity.
According to the Federal Trade Commission in 2019, almost 270,000 people – comprising 41% of total identity theft cases – became victims of identity theft because of credit card fraud.
Skimmers can be placed on ATMs by scammers. These skimmers can get your personal information off of a Magnetic strip card when you swipe it and can duplicate it to make another copy.
An identity thief can steal another person’s identity by hacking through insecure sites or platforms to steal data.
Massive data breaches that took place a few years ago – especially the Target breach that happened in 2013 that exposed over 40 million customer payment card accounts – may have compromised hundreds of people’s account information.
Recently, almost 1,500 data breaches in 2019 revealed the personal information of over 160 million.
As a result, identity thieves can make fraudulent purchases using another person’s card payment information.
Being vigilant and keeping an eye on the number and time of transactions and the amount charged on each transaction can make a difference.
You can prevent a potential identity thief from running off with your money.
3. Spot Any Unfamiliar Transactions in Your Account and Report Them
Identifying a fraudulent transaction on a bank statement can be a tough nut to crack if you haven’t opened your account in a few weeks.
On the flip side, if you monitor your account every day, you can spot an unrecognizable transaction without much effort.
This can save you a lot of hassle later on. You can find these suspicious transactions and contact your bank to get clarification.
The earlier you notify your bank of suspicious activity, the more money you will save.
If you alert your bank to a fraudulent transaction more than two months old, it becomes hard to ensure that your account is safe.
You should always check your bank charges every year to see if your bank has changed any of them.
You should pay particular attention to ATM fees, maintenance fees, and paper statement fees.
When you spot any unfamiliar charges, try to find which merchant charged you for them. If you can’t remember, contact your bank immediately.
Furthermore, if you peruse your account every day, you can identify any hidden or excessive charges that could save you a lot of trouble later.
What Should You Monitor For?
- Suspicious activity
- abnormal transactions
- un-authorized transfers
When you monitor your checking account, you should always check for any suspicious activity.
Suspicious activity can consist of purchases whose prices are listed higher than you bought them, abnormal transactions, different dealing patterns, unauthorized fund transfers, or any transactions that you don’t recognize.
What Should You Do If You Detect Any Suspicious Activity?
If you detect any suspicious activity, always inform your bank immediately. If your card was stolen, you should report it instantly.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, you won’t be held responsible for any fraudulent transactions made if you report immediately.
But, what if a fraudulent transaction was already made? Well, then different rules apply.
If you report that your card was stolen before any transaction is committed, you incur no loss.
If you report the loss within sixty days, you might only lose about $500. However, if more than two months pass without any report, then you may forget about your money as the fraudster will see that their constant purchases don’t even register to you or your bank, and they will probably empty your account.
So, it is better to be early to the game rather than being late.
Tips That Would Make It Easier for You To Monitor Your Checking Account
Monitoring your checking account has never been easier. You can take some of these steps to make it easier for you to monitor your checking account.
- You can ask your bank to schedule text or email alerts that notify you when a transaction has taken place and when a login takes place from a new location.
- You can set up mobile alarms for yourself as a reminder to monitor your checking account. These alarms can help you remember when to check your account, even if you forget.
- You should sign up for online banking so it becomes easier for you to manage and monitor your checking account. Nowadays, nearly every bank has a mobile banking app. You can install that to make managing your accounts even easier for you.
How Often Should You Monitor Your Checking Account?
Maintaining a lax attitude towards monitoring your checking account or even towards banking, in general, may not be a good idea.
This aloofness can end up being very costly to both the bank and the customer.
In essence, there is no specific number of days or hours that you should spend combing your account for suspicious activity.
The choice is wholly personal. You know your schedule better than anyone, so you should implement a regime that best fits you.
If your priority is to reduce any chances of fraud or identity theft, then signing in once every few weeks is not enough.
If you have never monitored your checking account regularly, then you could start by checking in at least once a week.
Over time, account monitoring may begin to feel less like a burden, and you could end up checking nearly every single day.
Checking your account every day is very helpful if you make transactions every day.
You can spot inconsistencies or suspicious activity in transactions easily if you recall the transactions you made the same day.
For online banking, make sure to change your password every three months or so to reduce the chances of someone accessing your account.
With the rate of credit card fraud and identity theft ratcheting up every year, it is becoming harder to sit back and take a laid-back approach to banking.
Data breaches such as the Capital One data breach in 2019 exposed over 100 million consumers in the United States could pose a problem in the years to come.
Hence, keeping an eye on all your accounts is a must. The number of times you check your account depends entirely on you.
There are no prior rules you have to follow. It is a personal choice that is unique to everybody.
However, chances of fraud and identity theft are considerably lower if you check your account frequently.
It is recommended that you check your account at least two days a week so you can track any unidentified transactions and keep ahead of any insidious thief that tries to steal your identity.