When you have money in the bank, you want to know that it is safe, and that the cash will be there when you need it. Fortunately, the FDIC provides extensive coverage for deposit accounts, insuring depositors for up to $250,000 per account.
That generous FDIC coverage lulls some account holders into a false sense of security. They believe that since the insurance protection is in place, nothing can happen to their accounts, and that checking the balances is not that important.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if the account is fully insured by the FDIC, you could still lose money to fraudulent activity, high fees and more. Here are four reasons you should check all your bank accounts on a regular basis.
#1. Detect Fraudulent Activity
The banking industry has worked very hard to eliminate fraud, putting detection programs in place and warning depositors when suspicious activity is detected. But those banks are fighting an uphill battle, and the bad guys are working just as hard to drain bank accounts and steal money from depositors.
By checking your bank accounts frequently, you can detect that fraud quickly, giving the banks a heads up and helping them take action that could help other depositors as well. The sooner you report the suspicious activity, the easier it will be to recover your funds and bring the thieves to justice.
#2. Limited Time to Take Action
Even if you did not authorize the activity in your bank account, you may be on the hook for the lost funds. Depositors have only a small window of time to report unauthorized activity, and once that window closes, it could be difficult or even impossible to get the lost money back.
In most cases, depositors are required to report unauthorized withdrawals and other suspicious activity within 90 days. So set a reminder, mark your calendar and make sure you check your account balances at least that often.
#3. The Account Could Be Subject to Inactivity Fees
Fraud is not the only way depositors can lose money. Banks have their own charges, and over time they could drain your funds or even leave you with a negative balance. Many banks assess so-called inactivity fees, charges imposed when there is no activity on the account. This is important if you maintain a separate emergency fund. If you fail to make a transaction in a set period of time, typically 12 months, you could start to see the impact of these inactivity fees.
Avoiding those nuisance charges is easy; all it takes is a single transaction. Even if you only deposit or withdraw a single dollar, you can get around the inactivity fees and protect the integrity and balance of your account.
#4. Dormant Accounts Become Unclaimed Property
Inactivity fees are bad enough, but even worse things could happen to your account if you leave it sit too long. If you fail to make any transactions for an extended period of time, your account could be turned over to the unclaimed property department in your state.
That does not mean that the money is no longer yours; the account is still in your name after all. But to recover the money you will need to contact the unclaimed property division, a time consuming process that could be avoided.
In most cases, checking your bank account balance is something you do regularly, maybe even daily. After all, you need to know that there is enough money in your account to cover the check you just wrote or avoid overdraft charges on your ATM withdrawals. But if you have a rarely used emergency fund, you cannot simply set it and forget it. Checking your bank accounts regularly is important, and it only takes a few minutes to protect the money you worked so hard for.