Here’s a tip that just might save your bacon: set up withdrawal alerts on your bank accounts. Many banks will send you an email alert whenever money is withdrawn from your account via check, debit card or transfer.

Setting up those alerts will allow you to spot and report fraudulent activity BEFORE the money has already been siphoned into a cybercriminal’s hands. Alerts are easy to set up from the account settings section of your bank's website.

In addition to email and text messages, some banks offer push notifications, which show up as banners or badges on your mobile device. Push notifications typically can be set up and configured with your bank's app on your device.

What Kind of Alerts Should You Choose?

Banks use different systems for alerts, but most offer at least some alerts that you can set up yourself and customize. You may also receive alerts that you didn't request but your bank believes are important.

Which alerts should you use? That’s a matter of personal preference, but here are a few you may want to consider, if your bank offers them:

  • High balance. Sometimes criminal who have hacked into your account will move money in and out of your account so it’s harder to trace. These alerts will notify you if this happens, so you can notify your bank that someone has fraudulently used your account.
  • Low balance. Sometimes when criminals hack into your account, they start using your account to buy a ton of stuff that they can sell or pawn for cash. These alerts will notify you if money from you account drops below a minimum limit you set in the alert. That way you can notify the bank that someone is draining your account fraudulently.

Even if there is no criminal activity, sometimes expenses run higher than you expected. These alerts will notify you that you have crossed your minimum account balance and possibly save you some overdraft fees.

  • Debit card use. This alert can notify you of activity that may be fraudulent.
  • Profile change. This alert may be triggered if your account username or password is changed. If you didn't do it, you going to want to know about it.
  • Unusual activity alert. This alert may be triggered if your bank detects charges in your account that appear abnormal compared with your usual spending habits. Like hundreds of 99 cent purchases, or a sudden purchase in Montana when you live in Missouri, or $15,000 in electronics, bought from multiple online retailers.

There are also reasons to use bank alerts that have nothing to do with criminal activity,


  • Cancel unwanted services. If you sign up for a service with an introductory offer, a "bill higher than usual" alert could remind you when the offer ends so you can decide whether to continue using the service.
  • Cancel duplicate services. If you and your spouse sign up for the same service, a "payment made" alert could help you identify and eliminate the duplicate expense.
  • Avoid unnecessary fees. If your spouse pays a large bill or makes a big purchase with a check or debit card, a "payment made" alert could help you avoid an overdraft or account maintenance fee due to a lower balance.
  • Protect your credit scores. If you have a mortgageor an auto, student or personal loan, or you use credit cards, "payment due" alerts could remind you to make those payments on time. On-time payments help you avoid late fees and are an important factor in your credit score.

Talk to your Personal Banker to learn how to set up alerts at your bank.

That’s it for Tip #12

Next week’s Tip will be “Make THIS Password Different From Everything Else!”

Remember – It ain’t poisonal...  it's jus bidness.

‘Til next time.