Tips to protect your checking account

Protecting your checking account information is vitally important these days. With a few simple steps, you can effectively safeguard your private information.

Here are some tips for preventing unauthorized access to your checking account:

Review your bank statement
Although it may be tempting to throw your monthly bank statement in with the pile of other mail in your home, you should take a few moments to give this document a thorough once-over. Not only can you see how much you've spent over the month, but you can also view a breakdown of each transaction.

Review your bank statement and verifying its information against your own check register can help you determine whether unauthorized transactions have been made.

Shred sensitive documents
As far-fetched as it may sound, there are people willing to rifle through the old banana peels, facial tissues and tuna casserole in your garbage to find documents containing sensitive information. After you review your bank statement and wish to dispose of it, shred the document. This can make it harder for thieves to read your information.

Invest in a paper shredder. Sure, you can dice up your bank statement with scissors, but a shredder can turn your sensitive documents into indiscernible confetti.

Balance your checkbook
Of course, carrying around a ton of receipts after making debit transactions, withdrawals or deposits can be cumbersome, but it's in your best interest to keep track of where you spend money. Record all of your transactions in the check register and update the current balance or monitor your account activity online.

Protect your mail
Those same individuals who are willing to sort through your garbage have no problem reaching into your mailbox to steal your mail. Don't leave your mail in the box for too long, and consider a post office box if you want additional security. Using online banking and going paperless with eStatements that are emailed directly to you can be an extra layer of protection.

If you stick to snail mail, notify your bank if your monthly statement or credit card bill doesn't arrive on time.

Safeguard your numbers
When typing in your PIN, shield the numbers with your other hand. In some cases, thieves have installed clandestine cameras on ATMs so they can steal your PIN. Also, be on the lookout for skimming devices, which are affixed to an ATM to read your card information and transmit it to an unauthorized user. If you find one of these devices, notify your bank and local authorities immediately.

Additionally, don't write down your PIN or account numbers or share them with others. This includes instances where someone asks for your information over the phone. Some thieves call posing as a bank employee and ask you to verify all of your account information. However, the bank already has this information and has no reason to ask for such verification. Although this tip may seem like common sense, forgetting to keep your numbers private can lead to significant financial loss.

Sign and go
Instead of using a PIN for your transactions, sign for your purchase. Signature-based transactions offer an extra level of security and protection when you sign at the register.

Notify your bank if something's wrong
If you notice a fraudulent transaction on your account history, contact your bank immediately. The same goes for if you lose a check, your debit card or even your credit card. The earlier you address the problem, the sooner you can cut off a thief's access to your funds.

Contact Landmark Bank for more information on how you can protect your account information.

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