Home > Identity Theft and Scams > 5 Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Bank Account

Comments 1 Comment
Advertiser Disclosure


Phishing, scamming and stolen identity problems — we have all heard about them. But how do you ensure that you don’t become a victim? Once you go through the process of choosing a savings or checking account, it’s important to keep the funds inside them — and yourself — safe. Illegal access to your financial records is one of the fastest-growing fiscal crimes today. Check out some ways you can protect your bank account below.

1. Enroll in Online Services

Having paper statements sent between your address and the bank invites the possibility of mail theft, so consider using your bank’s website primarily. Keeping track of your bank details online can also be more convenient. If you do prefer getting physical copies of your account, it’s a good idea to know when they should arrive. This way you can pick them up promptly and alert your bank if you don’t get them as expected. And, of course, shred all paperwork before discarding.

2. Be Aware of What You Share

You should only give your account information for transactions if you know the company or individual you are dealing with. Be especially careful if you are operating the transaction via phone, text or online. Don’t give anyone your PIN, avoid ATMs that look out of place and only access your account from secure URLs and WiFi connections.

3. Use Strong Passwords

It may seem obvious, but one way to ensure your security is to come up with a password other people can’t guess. It’s generally not a good idea to make your password something as obvious as your birthday or your significant other’s name. Try to create a series of numbers, letters and symbols you can remember but others wouldn’t necessarily think of. Be sure you also cover the keypad when you type in your PIN or password and change them regularly. Lastly, set up security questions only you know the answers to for prompting you to change the password or to access the account.

4. Check Accounts Regularly

Keeping an eye on your account will help you know when something is wrong. It’s important to read your statement carefully at least once each month so you can be sure all the purchases you are charged for and withdrawals listed are ones you authorized. You also may want to track debits and automatic payments because it is not always easy to remember all your transactions.

5. Get Bank Alerts

Even if you are vigilant about checking in with the bank, you probably won’t be able to catch everything as it happens. That is why many banks offer alerts to monitor and notify you about specific account activity. For example, you may want to set at alert for anytime more than $200 is spent from your account. It’s a good idea to inform your bank of anything out of the ordinary as soon as possible to help solve any problems right away and minimize damage.

You may also want to consider monitoring your credit, as a scammer can use your personal information from one account to open new accounts in your name for fraudulent purposes, and you might not even know it’s happening. You can check your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com — any major, unexpected changes in your scores could signal fraud and you should pull your full credit reports to confirm (you can get free annual credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com).

Thieves and scammers can gain access to your bank account a number of ways, so the more preventative measures you take, the safer you can feel. Implement the above steps you feel comfortable with, stay alert, and do all you can to avoid any possible bank account trouble.

More on Identity Theft:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Hitoshi Anatomi

    Being able to create strong passwords is one thing. Being able to recall them is another. And, being able to recall the relations between the accounts and the corresponding passwords is yet another. 

    Biometrics are password-dependent. So are multi-factor authentications and ID federations like password-managers and single-sign-on services. And, in a world with passwords killed dead , we have no safe sleep.

    At the root of the password headache is the cognitive phenomena called “interference of memory”, by which we cannot firmly remember more than 5 text passwords on average. What worries us is not the password, but the textual password. The textual memory is only a small part of what we remember. We could think of making use of the larger part of our memory that is less subject to interference of memory. More attention could be paid to the efforts of expanding the password system to include images, particularly KNOWN images, as well as conventional texts.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team