How to use automated alerts to protect yourself from fraud

Transaction alerts can help protect against fraud
May 23, 2019 | Pam Leibfried

Like many other Americans, my personal info has been compromised in a couple of big data breaches that have occurred in the past few years. Because I’ve learned a lot about fraud protection by working here at Alliant, I wanted to share some of the steps I've taken to protect my financial accounts in the hopes that the information will help you to better protect your own identity and financial accounts. 

Securing financial accounts

Use smart passwords 

A key to reducing the risk that your accounts will be hacked is having strong, unique passwords for each account. If you’re like me and you struggle to remember IDs and passwords, consider using a password management app. You’ll only have to remember one password (the one for your password app) and the app will remember the others for you. It only takes a minute to add your contact information in Alliant Online Banking. Just click the Settings tab and select Personal Information. From there, you can confirm or correct your mailing address and add phone numbers and email addresses. Please note that you’ll receive an email from us with instructions on how to confirm your email address so we can use that method to contact you.

Make it easy for your bank to contact you

Make sure the contact information on file for all of your financial accounts includes your email address and mobile phone number. Be sure to give permission to be contacted by phone, email, and text. That way, you can be contacted more quickly in case their fraud monitoring systems detect fraud on your account.

Sign up for fraud alerts

I’ve opted in to Alliant’s two-way fraud text alerts for my Alliant Visa credit card and my Alliant Checking debit card. If Alliant’s fraud monitoring systems detect that a purchase is suspicious, I’ll get a text. I can respond to either approve the transaction I’m trying to make or I can decline the transaction if it isn’t valid.  

Pro tip: Alliant can’t send you fraud text alerts if you haven’t given us your mobile phone number and if you aren’t opted in to receive text messages. Get details on how to verify or update your mobile phone number or your texting opt-in status in the Alliant fraud text alert FAQs.

Opt in to optional authentication steps 

If your financial institution offers any security measures in addition to a login and password, signing up for them adds a second hurdle for fraudsters to get over if they try to hack your account.

  • Opt in to two-factor authentication if your financial institution offers it. I’ve opted in to two-factor authentication for my Alliant account and all of my retirement accounts. Whenever I log in to Alliant Online Banking or use the Alliant Mobile Banking App, I am sent a six-digit code via text message. This means that even if someone has my password, they can’t log in to my account without the six-digit code that is on my phone.
  • My phone has fingerprint ID, and I use my fingerprint to log in to the financial apps on my phone.
  • Register your devices if your bank offers that option. For example, I’ve registered my laptop, iPad and mobile phone in Alliant Online Banking. If I sign in with one of those devices, my login is simplified, but when I sign in on any other, non-registered device, I have to take additional steps. Registering your devices in Alliant Online Banking only takes a few minutes, and helps us protect your account from being accessed by someone other than you. Just click the Settings tab and select Access & Security. On the Access and Security page, click Manage Registered Devices and follow the instructions to add your browser and device.

Banking transaction alerts

Monitoring your savings, checking and credit card accounts, which used to be time-consuming and a pain in the neck, is now a very simple and easy process. Just sign up for automated alerts that let you know whenever someone makes a transaction on your account.

Signing up only takes a few minutes of your time, and after that, you’re on autopilot. You’ll receive an alert when there is a specific activity on your account.

  • If you made the transaction, you ignore or delete the notification.
  • If you didn’t make the transaction, you contact your financial institution immediately to alert them to freeze your account before more fraud is committed.

Customize your transaction alerts

Many banks and credit unions that offer transaction alerts also allow you to customize the alerts so you can choose which transactions you want to be notified about. For example, when I set up my transaction alerts in Alliant Online Banking, I opted to receive alerts only when funds are withdrawn from my Alliant accounts, not when funds are deposited into them.

In Alliant Online Banking, you can customize the alerts you receive in several ways: 

  • Sign up to receive transaction alerts when your balance changes, when checks clear, when money is deposited or withdrawn from an account, or when your debit card is used.
  • Opt in to receive account summary emails, stop-payment expiration notifications or NSF alerts when you have non-sufficient funds to cover a transaction.
  • Set dollar limits for your alerts so only transactions over a specific amount will trigger a notification. This feature is especially useful for joint checking accounts. For example, you can set it up to only get alerts for transactions over $15 so you won’t receive a notification every time your partner spends $8 buying lunch with his or her debit card.

Pro tip: Setting Alerts in Alliant Online Banking is easy. From the main Account Summary page, click “Manage Alerts.” Then just click on a green + button to add the alerts you want to receive. On the page for that alert, you’ll click on the checkbox next to the account(s) you want tracked and set your dollar limit, if any. Then you’re set!  

Visa purchase alerts

Visa offers an alert service for some Visa cards, and it is available for all three of Alliant’s credit cards, so I’ve enrolled my Alliant Visa credit card in the Visa purchase alerts system. I get an alert every time more than $30 is charged to my credit card. That way, I don’t get an alert every time I use my card to buy gas or takeout, but I am still able to keep a close eye on charges made to my account. The sign-up only took a few minutes, and now I worry much less about credit card fraud.

Being part of data breaches has certainly brought home to me the sad reality that in today’s world, we need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves from fraud. But taking the steps above has given me peace of mind that I’m doing everything I can to ensure that if I do somehow become a victim of fraud, I’ll see it right away and be able to stop it before a lot of damage is done.

Pam Leibfried is a marketing content specialist whose love of words led to a writing and editing career. After a brief stint teaching English, she transitioned to corporate communications and spent 20 years at The Nielsen Company before joining Alliant’s content development team. Early in her work life, Pam’s friend Matt explained the benefits of a 401(k) and her dad encouraged her to start a Roth IRA. Their good counsel prompted her to prioritize retirement savings, which just might enable her to retire early so she can read more and live out the slogan on her fave T-shirt:  “I have a retirement plan: I plan on quilting.”   

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