Bank fraud is likely one of the last things on your mind – until it happens to you. The American Banker’s Association reported in 2009 that over 80% of banks experienced check fraud losses. Industry wide, the loss from bank fraud involving check-related instances only amounted to over 1 billion dollars.
That figure is difficult to comprehend, so think about $1,200 vanishing from your checking account tomorrow. That’s the average amount reported by victims according to the most recent report from Gartner Inc. as reported by Information Week.
The good news is that most banks have identity theft and bank fraud protection departments designed to help you recover from these types of attacks. Unfortunately, the bank safeguards don’t always catch these fraud attempts, which is why you should be aware of ways to avoid bank fraud.
1. Review Statements Monthly
It’s easy to brush aside your statements, especially when they’re sent via email. Break the habit of deleting the email and make sure you review the statement thoroughly. Look for transactions that look abnormal.
In checking over my statements a few years ago, I noticed a transaction under $50 from somewhere in Germany. I hadn’t purchased anything online that month and certainly hadn’t been over to Europe. I called the fraud department and they resolved the issue for me. If I hadn’t checked my statement, I would have lost the money and potentially more if they continued to hack my account. I was issued a new account and card number for protection.
2. Store Statements in a Safe Place
It’s easy to get the mail and forget it on the table before you leave for the evening. If you’re not in the habit of filing your statements right away, you could inadvertently leave private information out in the open when guests, babysitters, or extended family is around.
Keep your bank and credit card statements far away from the high-traffic areas of your home. It’s best to keep them filed in your office or in a room that’s out of sight.
3. Discard The Right Way
A lot of your personal information is floating around on statements and other pieces of mail, so decrease your chances of fraud by investing in a quality paper shredder. Old bank statements, checks, and other outdated documents should be shredded regularly. With access to statements through your bank and through online logins, there isn’t much of a reason to keep statements beyond a year.
Also be mindful of how you store and delete statements on your computer. A folder titled “bank statements” is a red flag for someone who stumbles across your files through a shared connection. Don’t make it easy for an identity thief to steal your information.
4. Don’t Log in at Public Places
Libraries, coffee shops, and public schools are places that you should avoid checking your bank information. While these places try to provide secure connections, it’s no guarantee that someone doesn’t break through the firewall and search through your files. That’s why you shouldn’t have a folder called “bank statements” or “online passwords.”
5. Change Your Password Frequently
A recent CNN Money article revealed that the most common password is … you guessed it: Password1. Do yourself a favor and don’t use the word password in any of your passwords – especially for your banking information. Even better, make sure your password is a mixture of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols. For added protection, it’s recommended that you change your password every couple of months. How long have you been using the same password?
If you have some time today, check with your bank about how they handle bank fraud. Gather the numbers you would need to call if you suspect bank fraud and take some time to follow these steps to insure against fraudulent activity.
Have you ever been a victim of bank fraud? What advice would you give for protecting your banking information? Leave a comment below!