USA: Save your Account from Online Thefts

Like many others, I too came to the USA with the great American dream. As in India, I share my Account Details with anyone who owes me money. 3 months later, I used an online site to transfer some money to India and all they wanted was my Acct Number, Name and the Routing Number (Which is unique to a bank). They did not ask for passwords or any other details. This lack of security seemed odd, so a colleague and I walked to the nearest Bank and spoke to their representative. We thought he would assure us that our accounts were safe. Instead, he told us the exact opposite.

He said that anyone with our Account Number, Name and Routing Number* can transfer money out of our accounts.

a. Every time you gave someone a check, you gave them your name, account number and routing number on a piece of paper.
b. Every time you signs up for auto pay using any site, your name, account number and routing number are being stored in a database with access to many.

The solution to this risk:
1.Maintain a Savings Account to hold most of your money.
Cons: No debit cards and a limit of 3 transactions per month.

2.Maintain 2 Checking Accounts.
Pros: Split your salary in such a way, that the account through which you do online transactions, gets at least 250$ a month through direct deposit from the employer and the rest goes to the new checking account.
Cons: Your employer should have the ‘split the salary’ option.

3.Always use the legitimate Bank Website to set up automatic Bill Payments.

If there have been unauthorized fund transfers from your account, please approach your bank and file a claim at the earliest.

* Routing Numbers are Unique to the Bank and hence very easy to find out.

2 Comments

  1. Very informative. I am pretty sure there are lots of people out there (like me) who went around entering the bank account details and routing details on every instance it was asked for.

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