7 mobile banking alerts everyone should activate

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Low balance. Large purchase. Unusual activity.

If your bank isn’t already notifying you about potential issues with your account, you probably haven’t set up the alerts in your mobile banking app. And that’s something you might want to do right away, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s mobile banking alerts provide an array of options to help consumers keep their bank accounts in good standing, avoid unnecessary fees and protect themselves from fraud,” says Paul McAdam, senior director of banking intelligence at J.D. Power.

Mobile banking alerts are often highly customizable and can be part of your best practices for smart financial management. The problem? Not many Americans take advantage of them. According to J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, while 54 percent of mobile banking consumers say they use their app to deposit checks and 41 percent use it to pay bills, only 24 percent report using alerts.

Here are seven mobile banking alerts to consider signing up for.

1. Low balance alert

This alert gives you a heads up when your bank account balance drops to a predetermined amount, which could be $20, $500 or some other number you select.

A low balance alert could be helpful for consumers nervous about racking up overdraft fees or anyone who wants to keep close tabs on how much money is in their account without having to log into it. Depending on your bank, you may be able to receive this alert in the form of an email, text message or push notification — or all three.

By knowing when you have too little funds in your account, you’ll be able to make better financial decisions.

2. Direct deposit alert

Expecting to receive your paycheck soon? By setting up a direct deposit alert, you’ll know when money sent electronically to your account is available and ready for you to use.

“Our customers value account alerts as much as ever before for tracking spending and account balances, as well as helping monitor for and identify potential fraud,” says Stacy Kika, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman. “Customers also can set up a direct deposit alert to notify them when their government stimulus payment is deposited.”

Banks like Wells Fargo offer a specific set of alerts for customers. In addition to a general direct deposit alert, there may also be an option to sign up for a check-tracking alert.

3. Unusual account activity alert

Another alert to consider setting up is the one that notifies consumers when there’s a change in their account status that’s beyond the norm. For example, a large amount of money transferred out of the account all at once could be concerning if that’s something that rarely happens. This sort of transaction is a red flag.

By signing up for an unusual account activity alert, you’ll immediately be made aware of any strange activity associated with your checking, savings or money market accounts. This is important, particularly if there’s an incident of fraud. The sooner you report fraudulent activity, the greater your chances of getting reimbursed due to a stolen debit card or an account number ending up in the wrong hands.

“Customers who use mobile banking alerts are slightly more likely to detect and contact their bank regarding fraud or unauthorized account activity – providing a greater sense of protection,” says McAdam from J.D. Power.

4. Large purchase alert

Depending on your bank, there may be a chance to specify that you want to be contacted when a significant amount of money is spent at one time, perhaps on a dozen TVs, for example.

If something unusual like this happens, you’ll want to know as soon as possible, especially if you’re not in the habit of checking your bank account transactions regularly.

5. Large ATM withdrawal alert

Besides setting up a large purchase alert, it’s important to consider opting for an alert that notifies you when a big cash withdrawal takes place that’s out of the ordinary.

An occasional, small withdrawal is no big deal. But exceeding the daily withdrawal limit could be a sign that someone else has access to your account (unless you’re withdrawing too much cash at one time).

6. Debit card alert

Debit card alerts, though potentially a nuisance, can also be helpful. You may have the chance to ask your bank to let you know whenever any purchase is made with your debit card or when there’s an unusual purchase.

A debit card alert can also be used to notify you when a transaction is declined or made in an odd location, like another country. This feature used in conjunction with card controls that allow you to lock your card can make it possible to quickly shut off access to your debit card if there’s fraud.

Although someone who has fraudulently used your bank account can’t necessarily open new lines of credit, it doesn’t hurt to check your credit report for unusual activity if you’re a bank fraud victim.

7. Profile change alert

Due to COVID-19, many people are working from home and finding themselves with more free time than usual. That means hackers and scammers have more free time on their hands, too. Updating your account passwords is a good idea.

For security purposes, it’s also wise to opt for a profile change alert that notifies you when your password or username changes, when your profile is updated with personal details or when your account is suspended.

Boosting your banking satisfaction

Alerts are not only useful, but they could also make you feel better about your banking experience overall.

Recent data from J.D. Power reveals that retail banking customers who use mobile banking alerts experience higher levels of satisfaction.

“Customers who use mobile alerts have greater assurance that their bank is: easy to use, provides guidance to help one gain control over their finances and transparent regarding fees and charges,” McAdam says.

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