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Choose bank account: Tips

By Marcie Geffner ·
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Opening a new bank account can be both exciting and stressful as there's much to do in making the choice and the switch, and there's much to remember after your new bank account is open.

Here are some tips from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC, a government agency that insures bank deposits so most consumers needn't worry about losses due to bank failures.

1. Overdrafts. Withdrawals that exceed the amount of money in your bank account "pose the largest risk for costly fees," the FDIC says. The easiest way to avoid these fees is to keep an up-to-date record of how much money is in your account and check your balance before making a purchase or writing a check. Also make sure you have sufficient funds in your account to pay any bills that are processed automatically. One safeguard against fees is to not opt in to fee-based bank overdraft programs.

2. Privacy. Many banks sell their customers' personal information to other companies for marketing purposes. You can restrict some of this information sharing by opting out or saying "no" under certain circumstances. The privacy of your personal financial records also is protected by certain laws. Read your bank's privacy notice for details.

3. Statements. Many banks pressure customers to give up paper statements and receive this information electronically. If you opt for electronic-only bank statements, be sure to review your statement as soon as you receive it because reporting errors in a timely fashion can limit your liability if a problem occurs. Save copies of your statement in a secure, or perhaps electronic, location in case you later need to confirm that you paid a certain bill. Some banks charge a fee to retrieve previous statements.

4. Notices. Monitor communications from your bank about changes it plans to make to your account, including new fees. These notices might prompt you to shop around for another bank where you can get a better deal.

This is last of a four-part series.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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1 Comment
August 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Check some of the other .gov website to see what they are required to tell you. Unless you have upgraded email (that's encrypted) it may be just as safe to get thru the mail.