Keeping an Eye on your Accounts

Many of us may have memories of our parents or grandparents getting out a pencil and sitting down to balance their checkbook regularly. As the popularity of debit cards and electronic payments skyrocketed, the practice of balancing a checkbook started being viewed as “old-fashioned.”

Keeping an eye on your account can be done a few different ways. Many financial institutions still mail (or email) monthly statements to deposit account holders. Take a look through those when they come every month and make sure everything looks right.

Also, sign up for online and/or mobile banking. This is a great resource to know where you stand at any point – but keep in mind some transactions take longer to post to your account than others. It’s a great idea to check your account online every day, or at least every couple of days.

If you make a transaction at your financial institution, whether it’s with a teller or at the ATM, ask for a balance on your receipt. This doesn’t give you many details, but if it’s far off from where you think it should be this is a trigger for you to do more research.

As the banking industry changes, employees in financial institutions have more opportunities to be trained to provide more customer service than when they were focused almost entirely on transactions. Get to know an employee at your local branch and reach out when you need help. They are there to help, but they can’t if you don’t ask or aren’t honest with them.

While it may look different now, keeping an eye on your bank accounts is still a super important practice. You may not keep track of every single transaction in a check register, but you need to know what’s going on in your account for a few different reasons.

  • Knowledge of your balance

Debit cards and electronic payments make it easy to keep spending and have no idea how much money you have in your account. One of the most basic, but important, reasons to keep an eye on your bank account is to know how much money you have.

Failure to keep track of your balance can end up being a very costly mistake. The average overdraft fee in America is $30, which means that every time you swipe your card to pay for something you don’t have money in your account to cover, you’re automatically going to pay around $30 more. Unfortunately, even a $1.50 soda can end up costing you $30 extra if you aren’t paying attention to your account.

  • Preventing fraud

With billions of dollars in fraudulent charges made annually, it’s important to keep an eye on your accounts to make sure you recognize every single charge. Even if a charge is only 99 cents or a few dollars, don’t ignore it if you don’t recognize it. A common fraud practice is to process a fraudulent transaction for a dollar or two to see if you notice, then they will hit your account for a much larger amount. This can be devastating, especially for families who live paycheck to paycheck.

If you ever see a charge that you don’t recognize on your bank account, don’t hesitate to contact your financial institution and ask. Most every financial institution has people trained to take care of fraud and they can do some research with you to try and find out what the charge might be and help you get it taken care of if it’s not yours.

Even if you and a bank employee discover together that a purchase you made online came through your account under a different company name than you expected, it’s much better for both you and your financial institution to be safe rather than sorry.

  • Mistakes happen

Mistakes can happen – whether it’s at the bank or a merchant where you’ve written a check or swiped your card. If you notice something that doesn’t seem right, always contact your financial institution right away. And if you miscalculated and need to use 24Cash to get a loan until you can catch up, do what you need to get by.

If you see a deposit in your account that you didn’t make, don’t just assume it’s your lucky day. Always contact your bank right away because spending it will eventually catch up with you when someone wonders where their deposit went and the paper trail leads back to your account.

Mistakes happen, and if it’s not your money, it’s not yours – regardless of mistakes. The right thing to do is make your financial institution aware right away of extra money (or less money) in your account than you think you should have.

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