Tips on how to protect your checking account

Published 4:37 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Difficult economic conditions give rise to desperate acts on the part of some individuals. This is nothing new. It has occurred throughout history and will no doubt continue in the future.

The current business scenario — an economy struggling to gain traction, high unemployment rates, skittish consumers and widespread factory closings — is no exception. A good example is checking account fraud.

You need to take extra precautions to safeguard your checking account. To assist in this endeavor, keep the following tips in mind.

First, do not give your account number to anyone you do not know. Provide this information only if you are familiar with the company you are dealing with. If you have not done business with a company, give your account information only if you initiated the transaction. Never provide account information in response to an unsolicited telephone call or e-mail.

Criminals often ask for account information and use it to withdraw money from your account. Or they may ask for your debit or credit card number and other personal information. Do not fall for these scams.

A second point to keep in mind is to carefully review your monthly statements. Make sure that all the withdrawals — checks, debits, or automatic payments — were authorized by you. Contact your bank immediately if you discover a transaction that you did not authorize. If your bank provides online statements, check your account regularly — preferably daily, but at least once a week.

Third, notify your bank about any other suspected problems as soon as possible. The quicker you provide notification to the bank, the quicker the problem can be resolved. Certain types of issues may require written notification. Be sure to keep copies of any documents you provide the bank. If you think the problem is a result of fraud, notify your law enforcement officials as soon as possible.

The above tips are always prudent practice. But they are crucial in today’s troubled economic times.

Wayne Curtis is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank. He can be reached by e-mail at