As a personal bank customer today, you need to be cautious and pay close attention to activity in your account. Bank errors and the potential of identity theft have made it imperative that you become proactive and follow simple safeguards. In addition, changes in bank policies can create confusion. Here are a few of the most common personal banking mistakes to avoid.
- Not reviewing your bank statement promptly. The biggest personal banking mistake is not opening and looking at your bank statements when you receive them. This is the only way to know immediately if there is a mistake in the account or if the balance is below the minimum level for which you will be charged a fee. Take a few minutes to look over the bank statement.
- Paying unnecessary fees and bank charges. Banking is a competitive business. There are banks that charge fees for various services and others that do not. Don’t pay unnecessary fees because you are too lazy to shop around. Likewise, don’t settle for lower interest rates if there are higher ones at another convenient bank.
- Leaving a literal paper trail. Leaving discarded bank documents behind makes you an easy target for identity thieves and con artists. If you make a mistake on a deposit slip, for example, don’t just toss it on the counter or even into the bank garbage can without tearing it up first. All bank documents that you plan to discard should be treated in the same manner — shred them or tear them up into small pieces.
- Banking online in public places. WiFi access allows you to go online from your favorite hangout. However, you should think twice before doing any online banking transactions over a wireless service from a public place. The level of security is not the same as it is when using your own router.
- Using an easy password. First, don’t use an obvious password like your birth date. Second, change your password periodically. Third, do not write your password down, particularly anyplace outside of your own home.
- Failing to take ATM precautions. ATMs can be lifesavers when you need cash. However, you need to be smart and not write down your pin number, especially on your ATM card. Also, do not carry money openly out of the vestibule or use the machine at all if you do not feel physically safe.
- Signing and endorsing checks prior to entering the bank. People do this all the time to save time. However, if you lose a signed or endorsed check, you can lose the money. Do your signing inside the bank, even if it takes a little longer.
- Leaving bank account numbers for others to see. If you are reviewing your bank statement at the office, put it in your pocket or purse when you are done. The same holds true for all bank related documents.
- Assuming you must borrow from your bank. If you need a loan or are in the process of seeking a mortgage, it is not necessary that you give your bank the business. You can certainly include them in your search, but you should certainly shop around.
- Not establishing a relationship. Whether you are banking online or in person, you should get to know the customer service staff. Meet the branch manager and establish a rapport with the people holding onto your money.
For more information, check out the AllBusiness.com’s Personal Finance Center.