If people tell you banks never make mistakes, they’re terribly mistaken! Whether it’s a human being or a computer, there will always be a glitch somewhere. This isn’t to scare you from using banks! But your caution in some cases can be your best self-defense. It never hurts to be on the safe side!
Errors when dealing with money can be pretty serious. This is especially the case when the bank puts some of your money in someone else’s account or vice versa. As the account holder, you need to develop the right habits of checking your account. This should be part of your long-term initiative to learn financially responsible banking! We’ll go through some vital principles that you need to know when dealing with banks. Then, we’ll show you the ropes on how to approach the mistakes that your bank makes. This is a crash course in banking like a boss, ladies and gentlemen!
Essential Banking Habits
Everybody has their own individual preference as to which type of bank he/she wants to use. And the fact of the matter is, it really doesn’t matter. Banking is just like any other type of service and follows the same rules of commerce. It’s all about needs. Determining which bank you want to work with should be about the one which caters to your financial needs.
But just as having a good bank is important, being able to make use of their services in the most effective manner is pivotal. What you get in the end is what you make out of the service. Here are a couple of tips on how you can become a pro at managing your banking account:
Pay Attention to Low Balance Alerts
Withdrawing too much money from your account is getting easy these days. It’s easier than you think, as a matter of fact. In the past, you had to put in the effort of having to physically go to the bank to make the withdrawal. Sometimes you even had to write a check. Now, money can vanish from your account in an instant. How? Well, it’s all these sophisticated electronic payment solutions, involving debit cards, Paypal, Venmo, and all these other tricks. Take note that in addition to the payment itself, many payment providers will take fees from your account to facilitate the transaction. It can all happen sooner than you think!
Now, banks can offer overdraft protection for a fee, which may be good but it can become quite an expense! At an average of $35 per overdraft, it may be a better option to look for alternatives.
If you want to really avoid overdrafts, you’ve got to dig deep. And that means really paying attention to your bank account’s balance. Low balance alerts will do very well to help you in this respect. Having this feature, allows you to receive live account updates on your cell phone’s text messages and email. Once you receive a low-balance alert, you’ll be able to tell that your account doesn’t have enough funds for additional spending. Usually, all you need to do to sign up for low balance alerts is look for the appropriate area on your bank’s website. From there, you’ll be able to sign up for the service electronically.
Some banks may have push notification alert options. Generally, in order to use this feature, you have to download your bank app on your phone. Be sure that the settings on your phone are correctly arranged so that you will see the notification once it arrives.
Sign up for Automatic Bill Paying
There’s a reason why the word ‘deadline’ has the word ‘dead’ in it. It’s because missing one can be deadly (figuratively speaking). Payment due dates are easy to miss because our lives are always busy. This is especially true for those who struggle with time management. In the past, bills came as physical documents, not online email alerts that can be easily ignored or accidentally thrown in the Spam folder. This makes paying bills a whole lot more difficult than one would expect.
Getting an automatic or online bill-paying arrangement with your bank could be the answer to your troubles. This option would definitely help you get the bills paid punctually so that you can avoid late fees.
In order for you to get this service, you’ll need to collect all the bills with the details on them. This includes the payment amount and the address for each recipient. Using your bank’s website, you can include all the details of each bill for the service. Adjust all the payment options according to your personal preferences and you’re all set to go! You’ll also find that some banks also offer a feature that will remind you of all your bills.
Deadly Banking Sins
There’s more to banking than cash withdrawals, deposits, and just using your debit card. Being smart about banking is about giving your money its due importance. Now that we’ve discussed the top do’s as an account holder, here’s an overview of some absolute dont’s. What you’re about to see are the most deadly sins in the banking world:
Sin #1: Ignoring Your Bank Statements
When receiving a personal bank statement, many people have the bad habit of not opening or looking at it. As a matter of fact, some experts consider it to be the biggest personal banking mistake that you can possibly make. Banks give you a choice between receiving it by email or having it sent via postal mail. Your bank statement is what can tell you what’s been going on in the account, which is why it is very important to pay close attention to them. Take note that you can also use bank statements for other things, such as applying for unemployment benefits. It’s also useful for personal budgeting tasks as well.
Sin #2: Letting the Bank Charge You Unnecessary Fees
Banks and fees go together like the government and taxes! They pretty much want to find any way to charge you a fee for almost anything at all. This happens because banking is a competitive sector in the economy. If you find that your bank is charging fees that are not necessary at all, then it’s time to shop for another bank. Don’t be shy of looking for a better bank that gives you the biggest bang for your buck!
Sin #3: Throwing Bank Papers in the Garbage
The documents that you receive from the bank can have a lot of personal information on them. There are criminal elements out there that could use your carelessness. Your paper could be subject to con artists, criminals, and more. Be sure to dispose of any bank statements or documents by either shredding them or tearing them into small pieces.
Sin #4: Using Internet Banking in Public Areas
Just because the WiFi is free, doesn’t mean that it’s safe to use! This is especially the case for online banking. You never know when cybercriminals can make use of the opportunity to get access to your account. You should only do online banking on a private, password-protected connection on your own router. It’s much safer. This applies if you want to buy anything online as well.
Sin #5: Having an Easy Password
It’s better to have more faith in your memory than to have an easy password. Be creative with your passwords and change them on a regular basis. Make sure you’re the only soul on Earth who knows it!
Sin #6: Underestimating ATM Dangers
There could be a lot that can happen at the ATM that could affect your finances negatively. You should not use ATMs in areas where you are in physical danger. Also, never write your PIN number on your ATM card. If that card gets lost, whoever gets it will empty everything from your account. It’s also best to take the two following related tips into consideration:
- Putting your signature on or endorsing a check outside of the bank: These are activities that you should really be doing inside the bank itself. It may be a little more convenient to do it on your way to the bank, but if the check gets lost, you’ll pay the price.
- Letting bank account numbers be visible for others to see: Be sure to keep your bank documents private. If you’re at work, keep it someplace safe. Don’t leave it on your desk at work. It’s definitely not something that you want other people to see.
Sin #7: Borrowing from Your Bank Only
If you’re looking for a loan, you can find many different loans out there. Don’t limit yourself to using only your bank. Be selective about which loans you want to use. In the end, it’s always about what’s in your best interests.
Sin #8: Not Forming a Personal Bond With Your Bank
It’s not about inviting the entire staff to dinner! Just try to be social and form some good bonds with the people who handle your money.
Handling Bank Errors & Investigation Procedures
When banking errors occur, be swift in tackling the problem before it turns into a bigger one. Most people think that banks are full of perfect, crisp, clean-cut employees who are mathematical geniuses and never make mistakes. Don’t let that perception of a picture-perfect, efficiently running financial institution that does things like clockwork deceive you. Mistakes have happened and will happen. You could be in the middle of it.
So what do you do? The first thing you need to do is immediately inform your bank to investigate the matter. Feel more comfortable on the phone? It’s fine if you notify them that way. But they may request a written note from you to investigate. Sometimes it’s important for them to have this in writing.
Usually, banks have 10 business days to find out what the problem is. They can have up to 20 business days if your account has been active for less than 30 days. Then, they get one business day to resolve the issue once they discover what it is. You will then receive an update within three business days. They also will have to explain how they solved the problem.
Now let’s say the bank failed in its mission. Then, they owe you money if it involved money that had gone missing from your account. They’ll put the missing amount minus $50. From this point, the bank is still given another chance to get to the bottom of the error. They will have 45 days to do just that! In some cases, the bank may have to investigate if the money had gone missing due to transactions done abroad. If that’s the case, they will get up to 4 months time to investigate.
Got a Little Too Much Money?
Now, let’s say some money was accidentally put into your account. Well, you’ll want to cancel that trip to the mall! No shopping sprees are going to be happening because that money is not yours. If you decide to spend it and refuse to give it back, that’s a criminal offense. So be careful about this because you don’t want to get in trouble with the law over somebody else’s mistake.
What you need to do is inform the bank so that they can do their part in returning the money to its rightful owner. See? Sometimes smart banking is about doing what’s best. Who ever said that honesty doesn’t pay off?