Managing your relationship with your bank is as
important as choosing the right one in the first place. Here are
some tips for making your dealings go smoothly.
Online banking can simplify and speed up your checking account management.
For example, you no longer have to call the bank or wait for a monthly
statement to see if a check cleared. Instead you can log on to your
account and in seconds can see if the transaction has taken place.
The benefits of online banking don't stop there. Among
other things, you can pay
bills, transfer money between accounts and set up e-mail alerts
from your bank tipping you off to things such as when a check clears
or when the balance drops below a certain level.
Bankrate.com can help you find online checking accounts
with the best
There's no reason to be shy about doing online banking, but you
must exercise caution in regard to user names and passwords so no
one gains unauthorized access to your account. Be careful about
you receive that purport to be from your financial institution.
Make it a practice to not click on any links in e-mails that request
personal information; call the bank and see if the e-mail is legitimate.
The best way to access your financial institution's Web site is
by typing the online address yourself; not clicking on a link. Just
as you need to take steps to protect your accounts, banks also need
to address the issue of account
Whether you bank online or use more traditional methods, you need
to review your monthly
statements and reconcile your records with the bank's. It's
always important to quickly catch any discrepancies so that they
can be corrected, and to ensure that there have been no unauthorized
Financial institutions that you do business with have a lot of
personal information about you. They make money by selling that
information to other companies. If you don't want them to do that
you need to let them know. Financial institutions are required to
let you "opt
out" of having that information shared with certain companies.
It's not the greatest consumer law on the books, but it gives you
some rights. The information the bank gives you about opting out
may be sent with your periodic statement or by itself.
The Patriot Act
The war on terrorism is having an impact on banks. Financial institutions
now are being held to higher standards with regard to verifying
the identity of people who open accounts. You can expect to have
to show proof of who you are and, possibly, answer some questions
about the source of the money you'll use to fund the account. For
more information, read about the Patriot
Act and what it means for your bank accounts.
What assets are protected?
In today's banking world where the lines have blurred
between banks, brokerages and insurance companies,
it's important to know which accounts are covered
by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and
which accounts aren't covered. While deposits are
insured up to $100,000 per customer and $250,000
for retirement accounts, there are ways
to set up accounts to insure much more money.
You'll probably never have to rely on FDIC coverage if your bank
practices good financial management. You can get a good idea of
an institution's financial health by checking Bankrate.com's Safe
& Sound rating system. The best time to check is before
opening an account, but it's smart to monitor your bank anytime.