If a bank account is a house for your money, then mobile alerts are your alarm system. These email or text alerts can help you keep track of when your money enters and exits your accounts — and make sure there’s no breaking-and-entering either.
“As fraudulent behavior has become more public with major retailers being breached, consumers have realized the importance of being involved in identifying fraud and not solely relying on their banks and credit unions to prevent it,” says Chris Hill, senior manager of digital channels at Alliant Credit Union.
Log in to your bank’s app and set up alerts to go off in these five situations:
1. When big purchases happen
You should know every transaction going in and out, but pay more attention to the ones with extra zeros. If any don’t ring a bell, review the transaction details in your account history and talk with any family members who have access to your account.
2. When your profile or password changes
If your personal information on your bank’s website or app changes without your authorization, especially passwords, that's typically a sign of identity theft.
3. When an ATM withdrawal exceeds a certain amount
If you only use ATMs to get a few twenties at a time, set up this alert so you’ll know of any big withdrawals you didn’t authorize.
4. When your account drops below a specific amount
Normally this can help you avoid overspending. But if you set up this alert on a checking or savings account you rarely use, you can catch any sign of the balance dropping due to unauthorized purchases or even bank fees.
5. When any debit card purchase occurs
This alert might be annoying for some, but consider setting it up if you want to see a real-time list of your purchases either as emails or text messages. When purchases occur at odd hours, you’ll know right away.
» Want credit card alerts, too? Check out the three alerts worth setting up now
Act on suspicious activity
If any alerts lead you to believe that you are a victim of identity theft, contact your bank immediately. Check the back of your debit card or the bank’s website for the number. The sooner you report fraud, the faster your bank can help and the less likely you’ll be responsible for unauthorized transactions.
More fraud prevention tips from NerdWallet