Your checking account could be vulnerable to fraud and excess charges, but you can take simple steps to safeguard your account and make sure your money stays secure.

From keeping your account information out of others’ hands to staying current on your balance and statements to keeping an open line of communication with your bank, these tips are easy but necessary.

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1. Stay up to date on your monthly statements

Keeping up with your account activity and carefully reviewing your statements each month serves two important purposes.

First, if you know how much money is in your account at all times, you won’t spend or withdraw past your limit. With overdraft protection fees that average nearly $30, you are more likely to cost yourself money by overdrawing than you are by falling victim to fraud — and it’s completely preventable.

Secondly, you should review your statement to ensure all the charges, debits, payments and withdrawals taken your account are transactions you authorized. The best way to do that is by carefully combing through your statement each month. If you discover a transaction that looks out of place, get in touch with your bank as soon as possible.

2. Keep your account information as private as possible

You would never hand a stranger your account number and routing information, so be sure to only give that information to businesses you trust.

If you are paying via check, make sure you only conduct a transaction with a familiar company or that, in the case of an unfamiliar business, you were the one who initiated the transaction. Do not reply to any solicitation with your account number and routing information: It’s an easy way to fall victim to check fraud.

3. Stay in touch with your bank

At the first sign of check fraud or issues with your checking account, contacting your bank should be your first step.

The longer you wait before calling or visiting your bank, the longer it will take the institution to resolve whatever problem exists. Be sure to hold onto copies of any documents involved in the suspicious activity. If your account has been defrauded, you may also need to contact the authorities. 

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