Eight tips for protecting your current account

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Regardless of your income or your overall financial health, chances are you use your current account as the backbone of your personal financial planning. Many of us have most (or perhaps all) of our pay cheques deposited to our current accounts each pay period. We then have automatic bill payments set up to pay our bills. And we can set periodic withdrawals from our current accounts to fund other accounts we have.

Because we rely on our current accounts so much, it’s absolutely vital that we keep it safe and secure. Here are eight tips to help you protect your own current account, according to www.bankadvice.com.

Leave your chequebook at home

One way to keep your current account safe is to keep your chequebook safe. That means only using your chequebook when you need to, and keeping it secure in your home when you’re not using it. Resist the temptation of usually keeping your chequebook in your purse or in the glove box of your car.

Choose a unique PIN

Your current account is almost certainly linked to a debit card, and your debit card is how you’re most likely to access the funds in your account. And unlike your chequebook, you probably carry your debit card in your purse or wallet everywhere you go. It’s therefore vital to choose a PIN for the card that doesn’t incorporate information that a thief could derive from other information in your purse or wallet (such as your birthday or street address).

Keep your banking app secure

If you have a smartphone, then you may be using an app to conduct some or all of your banking transactions. So, keeping that app secure is essential. There are a couple different elements here. First, your smartphone should be physically secure. Make sure you know where your phone is at all times. Second, make sure your phone requires you to enter a password before accessing any of the apps. Finally, set up your banking app so that you’re required to enter your username and password each and every time you want to use it. By doing so, no one can access your account through the app merely by gaining access to your phone.

Set up alerts

The best way to protect yourself is to have as much information as possible about your account. If your bank offers it, consider setting up transaction alerts. With these banking alerts, you’ll receive an email or a text alert every time there’s a deposit or withdrawal from your account. This will let you know, in real time, if there’s ever any unauthorised activity on your account.

Review your monthly statements

By the same token, be sure to closely review your monthly account statements as soon as you receive them. It doesn’t matter whether you receive paper statements or electronic statements; look them over as soon as possible. By developing positive habits when it comes to keeping your account secure, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding any account compromises.

Don’t give your account number and bank routing information to anyone you don’t know

Give out your account information for transactions only if you are familiar with the company you are dealing with. And if you have not done business with a company before, give out account information only if you have initiated the transaction. Criminals may ask you for your bank account number and then withdraw money from your account by creating a demand draft (sometimes called a “remotely created cheque”) or making an electronic transfer. They may also ask for your credit card number and other personal information. Don’t fall for these scams and don’t let yourself be pressured into “free trial offers.”

Notify your bank about any problems as soon as possible

The sooner you alert your bank to a problem, the sooner they can get it resolved. In some cases, your bank may require you to notify them in writing. Keep copies of any documents you give the bank until the problem is resolved. If you think the problem is a result of fraud, you should also contact your lawyer.

If you don’t have enough money in your account, don’t write the cheque or authorise the debit

Cheques are being processed more quickly these days, which means the money may be debited from your account sooner. Also, many stores and utility, insurance, and credit card companies will convert your cheque to an electronic payment, which also means the money will be debited from your account sooner. If you don’t have enough money in your account when you write a cheque or authorise a debit, you could find yourself paying an overdraft fee.

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