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By Pam Leibfried
In today’s world of retailer data breaches, ATM skimmers and phishing scams, fraud is a risk that we all face. And the best way to protect yourself from that risk is to check your accounts on a regular basis and to take advantage of account monitoring options that help to make that process easier.
If you notice fraud right when it occurs, you can stop it before it does even more damage. And if stopping fraud more quickly isn’t enough of a motivator for you, you should know that quick reporting will make it more likely that your funds may be returned to you. Plus, the earlier you report fraud, the earlier you can get your money back!
There’s a very important reason that you shouldn’t put off reviewing your account transactions for long periods of time: Some of the fraud protection services that will otherwise reimburse you when you’re a victim of financial fraud have strict time limits. If you don’t report the fraud within 60 days, it’s likely that you won’t be reimbursed for the fraudulent transactions. Different account types, payment cards and institutions have varying rules, so pay attention to your account agreements and related disclosures.
Pro tip: Alliant’s account agreement & disclosures, including our fraud policies, are posted online.
At a minimum, you should review your financial account statements every month to ensure that all of the listed transactions were actually made by you and not by a fraudster. If you’re an Alliant member who has opted into eStatements, we’ll email you when your monthly eStatement is posted in Alliant Online Banking. That notification can serve as your monthly reminder so you won’t forget to log in and review your recent transactions.
Pro tip: If you’re an Alliant member who hasn’t opted into eStatements and you only receive quarterly deposit (savings, Certificates, etc.) account statements in the mail, you can still log in to Alliant Online Banking to review an eStatement each month. You can put it on your calendar so you won’t forget.
Monitoring your bank accounts used to be sort of a pain. But digital banking channels and automated transaction alert options now make it easy. Alliant provides convenient ways to monitor your accounts for fraud:
Digital banking channels like Alliant Online Banking and the Alliant Mobile Banking App make it easy to check your account wherever and whenever you have time. Just log in and review the transactions that have been made on your accounts. In just a few clicks or taps, you’ll have peace of mind – or you’ll know to report fraud to us so we can stop it before it does further damage.
Pro Tip: Don’t log in to any banking or financial accounts while using a public wifi hotspot. Log in only from a secure wifi connection such as the password-protected secure wifi in your own home. Or use your phone’s cellular connection instead of wifi.
Alliant offers an option for two-way, real-time text alerts. Once you’ve opted in to these alerts, whenever you make a debit card transaction that our account monitoring systems suspect is fraudulent, we’ll alert you via text. The text message will state the merchant and amount of the transaction and will ask you if it’s legitimate. You can then type YES to approve it or NO to decline it – all in real time!
Right now, this service is only available for Alliant Visa Debit Cards, but it’s in the works for your Alliant Visa Credit Cards too, so watch your inbox for a notification that it’s available.
How to opt in: It’s easy! Just click on the Receive Text Messages check box on the Phone Number Management page in Alliant Online Banking; it’s on the Settings tab at this location: Settings > Personal Information > Manage Phone Numbers.
We’ll email you when specific transactions occur on your account – you just have to opt in and tell us which kind of alerts you want to receive. We offer a variety of alert options; you can select the alerts that are right for you so you get only the emails you want:
How to opt in: From the main Account Summary page, click “Manage Alerts.” Click on a green plus-sign button to add the type of alert you want to receive, then select the account(s) you want tracked and set your dollar limit, if any.
If you have an Alliant Visa Debit Card, Alliant Visa Platinum Credit Card, Alliant Visa Platinum Rewards Credit Card or Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card, you can opt in to text alerts from Visa. Every time any transaction is made using your Alliant Visa card(s), you’ll get a text message. If you didn’t make that purchase, you can let Visa know immediately so additional fraudulent charges can’t be made.
Sometimes it feels like it’s only a matter of time before you’ll have to deal with being a victim of fraud. A few years ago, I was part of a breach, so I know that my information may have been compromised, making me vulnerable.
That’s why I’m now extra diligent about watching my financial accounts. But I’m also a bit forgetful, so I realized that if I didn’t automate account notifications, I’d put myself at risk. If that sounds like you, check out the Money Mentor article explaining in more detail how I personally use alerts to protect myself from fraud.
Other great resources on protecting your family from fraud – including tips for securing electronics and keeping your physical financial materials secure – can be found on our website’s Security Center and in the fraud protection checklist that we sent our members with their June account statements.
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.”