Checking account theft is now second only to credit card theft. How do thieves get your checking account information? There are several ways. They steal your outgoing mail, taking checks you’ve written, soak off the ink, and rewrite them. They steal your wallet and obtain information and credit cards that way. Fake ATM machines can be set up to record your account number and PIN. You could be hit by an inside job when a bank employee steals your account information.
But increasingly, these thieves are going online. Around 45 percent of adults with Internet access use the Web to bank or pay bills. Among those whose checking accounts had been raided, 70 percent were online finance users.
There are some things you can do to protect yourself from online fraud and scams. Never use a public computer or wireless "hot spot" for financial transactions. Be sure that your internet web browser has the security options set to high. Use a credit card rather than a debit card when making online purchases.
Also, remember to monitor your bank account carefully and often. If you see a debit that you can’t remember making, be sure to alert your bank. The sooner you report a problem, the better--after 60 days, the bank may be under no legal obligation to provide a refund.
Keep your virus software up-to-date and run frequent scans of your computer. Blocking pop-ups will prevent some malicious software from being installed on your computer without your knowledge. Also be suspicious of any emails purporting to come from your financial institution, especially if they ask for your account information or password. Contact your bank directly instead of responding to the email.