Getting alerts on your bank account

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Personalbanking@punchng.com

If you have not already signed up to get alerts on your mobile phone from your bank, you can do that because of the inherent benefits, some of which are provided in the following report by www.creditcards.com.

Mobile alerts can tell you within minutes if your card is used in another country or if your payment is overdue. They can save you the embarrassment of being blocked at the cash register if a transaction seems suspicious by asking you via two-way text if the purchase is legitimate.

The beauty of mobile alerts and notifications is that it is a way to involve bank customers and deputise them, because they often know better than the banks if something is legitimate or not.

The alerts can also help you manage your personal finances by alerting you before a payment is due, if your balance goes over a specific amount or if you are close to your credit limit.

You can get alerts through email, text message or “push notifications” that pop up in the status bar or notification tray of your cellphone. Email alerts are still the most common.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of alerts:

Email: Banks offer email alerts, and this type has been around the longest. The problem, of course, is that some folks don’t have email on their phones. Even if you do, you may not check it regularly.

Text message: About 95 per cent of banks allow their customers to receive at least some financial alerts via text. Because we are conditioned to give texts our immediate attention, this type of alert is a good choice for news you consider urgent.

Also, make sure you consider whether you are going to incur charges for texts. Some banks offer a two-way text that pops up instantly on your phone if you try to make a transaction that looks suspicious; and you respond that the purchase is legitimate or not to complete or abort the transaction.

When do you want to get an alert?

Signing up for at least some mobile alerts should be “a no-brainer choice for the customer. You don’t necessarily need an alert for every transaction. But everyone should want some type of notification.

 Fraudulent transactions happen fast: A thief will do a little testing and then go to town, so it is important to catch fraud as quickly as possible.

Some alerts are designed to enhance security; others help you stay on top of your personal finances. Here are some options you may see:

Security alerts:

 Suspicious transaction: When banks suspect fraud, they automatically try to contact you.

 Card-not-present transaction: This notifies you anytime a purchase is made without a swipe, so it is mostly Internet transactions. “These transactions are much more vulnerable to fraud because all they need is your account number, not your actual card.

 Fuel transaction: Filling stations are another hot spot for thieves; you will be notified anytime a purchase is made at once.

 International transaction: Because a lot of fraud originates overseas, this can be a good way to catch fraud if you rarely travel abroad; you can turn it off when you leave the country.

Transactions over a preset amount: You can choose to be notified of every transaction over a specific amount. If you choose a particular amount, you will be alerted to every transaction; set a higher amount to minimise the number of alerts.

Personal finance alerts

Available credit: Sent when your money falls below a specified amount you set.

 Balance: This is sent anytime your credit card balance exceeds an amount you set. This can be particularly useful if you have multiple people using your card or if you are trying to stay within a budget.

 Low balance: This is an alert if the balance in an account linked to your debit card falls below a specified amount.

 Payment due: This notifies you a specified number of days before a payment is due.

 Missed payment: This is sent if no payment was received by the due date.

How to sign up

Banks are cautious about automatic enrolment because they don’t want their customers to feel they are being spammed or overwhelmed. Most people send automatic security alerts via email (or through a call to your home phone) anytime their personal information or settings are changed or if they notice suspicious activity.

To start getting text messages or push notifications to your cellphone, you have to proactively sign up. Though it can be difficult to enrol, it is worth doing simply so your bank can reach you quickly on your cell if it detects any suspicious activity.

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