Banking Alerts That Can Make Your Life a Lot Easier

A young woman walking down the street with a coffee in one hand and looking at her phone in her other hand.

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Online banking has made managing our money much simpler than it used to be. You can check your balance and move money around from anywhere with a cell phone signal, and you can automate savings transfers and bill payments so you don't even have to think about them.

Some banking alerts notify you of possible fraud and help you avoid overdrawing your account. These are perhaps online banking's most underrated feature. Not every bank will offer all of these alerts, but here are seven of the most common banking alerts you may want to consider activating if you can.

1. Unusual activity alert

An unusual activity alert notifies you of any spending that appears to be a significant departure from your normal habits. For example, if you live on the East Coast and someone in California tries to use your debit card number to make a purchase or attempts to transfer a large sum of money from your bank account to an external bank, that would trigger an alert.

These alerts can help you recognize if you've been the victim of identity theft so you can take swift action to prevent further fraud. Notify your bank as soon as possible if you receive an unusual activity alert.

2. Direct deposit alert

A direct deposit alert lets you know when your paycheck has been deposited into your account. This is useful if you're waiting on your paycheck to pay your monthly bills. It saves you from having to repeatedly check your account or risk overdrawing your account by attempting to pay bills before your paycheck has cleared.

3. Low balance alert

A low balance alert lets you know when your bank account balance has dropped below a certain level. You're usually able to set this level to whatever you want, whether that's $10, $100, or $1,000. It's another useful tool that can keep you from incurring overdraft fees. Once you receive this alert, you can either reduce your spending or transfer money from a savings account.

4. Large purchase alert

This alert notifies you of any large purchases made with your funds. Be aware that it doesn't necessarily mean the activity is fraudulent. If you have a joint account with your spouse, the purchase might be theirs, so check with all other account holders. If no one recognizes the purchase, it's most likely fraud and you should report it to your bank.

5. Large ATM withdrawal alert

A large ATM withdrawal alert tells you when someone attempts to withdraw a large sum from your account at an ATM. This could be an identity thief or an authorized user on your debit card, but either way, it's good to be aware of large cash withdrawals. And if it does turn out to be fraud, the sooner you notify your bank, the faster you'll be able to get your money back.

6. Debit card use alert

Those who infrequently use their debit cards may want to set up a debit card usage alert that will let them know when someone uses the debit card. Depending on what your bank allows, this could also fall under the unusual activity alert. Some banks also enable you to remotely lock your debit card if you suspect fraud, and a debit card use alert gives you the notice you need to lock your card before the thief uses it to make additional purchases.

7. Profile change alert

Profile change alerts let you know if someone attempts to change your online banking username, password, or personal details. Hackers sometimes do this in an attempt to access your funds and lock you out of your own bank account. If you receive one of these alerts, you should notify your bank and change your account password as soon as possible to prevent the hacker from gaining access again.

You don't need to use all of these banking alerts, or any of them for that matter. But there's no denying they can be useful in preventing fraud and overdrawn accounts. Check with your bank to see what types of alerts it offers and try some of them out. You can always shut them off if you find you're receiving too many unnecessary notifications.

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