Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Watching Over the Money - Vigilant Online Banking

Do you remember life before debit cards? I was working at US Bank headquarters in the late 80's when debit cards were introduced and employees were the first pilot group to begin using them. Now I rarely write a check and use my debit card instead. Financial innovation never stops---especially when it comes to products and services to keep us spending our money.

Fast forward a few years and now I use online banking to transfer funds, monitor my accounts, and reconcile balances. One thing that has helped me feel more secure with my online accounts is setting up email alerts. Most online institutions have an option to set email alerts to you when certain events happen. For example, I set up my checking account to send an alert when an amount $100 or over is deducted from my account. The email provides pertinent details of the transaction--enough to confirm the transaction while not compromising security:

Transaction Date: 04/18/2006
The following transaction completed: Withdrawal greater than $100.00
Transaction Amount: $147.00

Similarly, I've set alerts on my credit card accounts to monitor my balances. Because the alerts are set to trigger within a credit limit range, I can know through email if a credit account has been compromised immediately, well before a statement arrives or I log in to the account. Using online banking alerts gives me an added measure of oversight and security that only takes a few moments to set up.

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