If you haven’t set up any account alerts in your mobile banking app or online account, you may be missing out on an easy way to keep your accounts in good standing, avoid unnecessary fees, and protect yourself from fraud.
Today’s banking text and email alerts are typically customizable, and can let you know when money is going in or coming out, as well as if anything unusual is happening with your accounts.
Just a few minutes of upfront legwork could end up saving you a lot of time, hassle, as well as money, down the line.
Which automated alerts are worth enabling—and which might you skip to avoid being inundated with info you don’t really need ASAP?
Here are 7 banking alerts to consider signing up for. Depending on your situation, you may want them all, or just a few.
1. Low Balance
Cars have gas lights to warn drivers when fuel is close to empty, so why shouldn’t bank accounts?
A low balance alert lets you know when funds have dipped below a predetermined amount–it could be $20, $1,000 or any amount you set.
This can help keep you from overspending and triggering expensive overdraft fees.
When you receive an overdraft alert, you can then decide if you want to transfer money into your account or hold off on making a purchase until your next paycheck clears.
A low-balance alert might be helpful for consumers who are nervous about racking up overdraft fees, or anyone who wants to keep close tabs on how much money is in their account without having to log in all the time.
2. Direct Deposit
Constantly checking your account to see if your paycheck has been deposited can be a nuisance, particularly if you only recently set up direct deposit (which can take one or two pay cycles to get going).
If you sign up for a direct deposit account alert, however, you’ll know exactly when money sent electronically to your account has been deposited and is ready to use.
Being notified of direct deposits each paycycle can also help you make sure that your employer is paying on time, and that you have enough money in your account to cover bills and automatic expenses.
Plus, who doesn’t like getting good news? Cha-ching!
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3. Unusual Activity
While you may not want to think about ever being the victim of a crime, millions of people report fraud and identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) each year.
Setting up an unusual activity mobile account alert can save account holders a lot of headaches, as well as time and money, should their accounts ever become compromised.
An unusual activity alert notifies consumers when there’s a change in their account status that’s outside the norm.
For example, if a large amount of money gets transferred out of the account all at once and this is something that rarely occurs, you would receive an unusual activity alert.
Or, an alert might let you if purchases are being made outside your typical travel area.
By alerting you the moment a potential fraud takes place, you can take action quickly, report the transaction, or even freeze your account.
Without this alert, a fraudster could rack up several charges on an account without the account holder even being the wiser.
That could result in having to report multiple false charges, instead of just one, as well as costly overdraft fees you would then have appeal.
4. New Log-In
Another helpful way to protect your accounts against fraud and theft is to set up a new log-in account alert.
This alert lets you know when someone has logged into your account from a computer or device that has never been used to access your account before.
If you weren’t the one logging in, you can then immediately change your password, and even freeze your account to prevent spending.
This can help prevent a fraudster who has managed to get access to your account information from doing too much damage.
Some financial institutions also allow customers to set up multi-factor authentication on their account (which requires users to provide multiple pieces of identifying information, not just a username and password to access an account), which can even further protect your money.
5. Large Purchase
Some banks allow users to set up a customizable large purchase alert.
This alert will send you a message any time a purchase over a certain dollar amount (which typically you determine) is about to be charged to your account.
If you see the alert and don’t recognize the purchase, you may then be able to block the transaction.
Having a large purchase alert set up can help prevent fraud, but also human error.
If a restaurant server accidentally adds an extra zero to a dinner bill, a large purchase alert could go off. That could save you the hassle of reporting the purchase later and trying to have it reversed.
This mobile bank alert may be especially helpful if you are not in the habit of checking your bank account transactions on a regular basis.
6. Overdraft Alert
If you overdraw your account using a check or debit card, your bank might allow the transaction, letting you spend more money than you actually have in your account.
Typically, this allowance comes with a price—an overdraft fee (which can often exceed $30).
And, if you don’t realize you’re overdrafting your account, you might continue to make purchases, and incur a fee on each one.
Depending on the bank, if your account remains in a negative balance for an extended number of days, your account could even be closed.
If you get an overdraft alert, you may want to add money to your account as quickly as possible to prevent any more overdrafts.
If you move quickly, you might possibly be able to avoid the first overdraft fee. You may want to check if your bank has a deadline to deposit money that might help you avoid an overdraft fee.
7. Profile Changes
Profile change bank alerts notify you if someone has tried to change your password or username, or any personal information in your profile, such as contact information or opting out of bills through mail.
Turning on the profile change alert on your account can be a great way to keep tabs on any recent account activity.
If you see something was changed, and it wasn’t you who made the changes, you’ll likely want to change your password ASAP, and also alert the bank.
Setting an alert for withdrawals from an ATM or debit card lets a person know when cash has left their account.
This might be helpful in the event that there are multiple authorized users on the card (so you are aware of a change in the account balance), but also if the card has been stolen.
According to the FTC , the maximum loss for a person who reports their card as lost within two days of discovery is $50.
That means even if a thief steals a debit or ATM card and wipes out the account’s balance, the account holder would not be out more than $50.
If a person doesn’t notice their ATM or debit card has gone missing, or been stolen out of their wallet, a withdrawal notification could be the first thing to alert them.
Automatic bank alerts can provide you with important and timely account information, such as when your account falls below a certain amount, or when your paycheck has been electronically deposited.
This can help you keep track of your account and your spending, as well as avoid costly overdraft fees.
Mobile or online banking alerts can also notify you right away if there’s unusual activity on your account, such as a change in your profile or password, an unusually large withdrawal or transfer was made, or someone has logged into your account from an unknown device.
Typically, the sooner you know—and sooner you let your bank know—about any fraudulent activity on your account, the more likely you will be to recoup any losses, and the less hassle you may have to go through to resolve the situation.
If you’re looking for an easy way to keep an eye on your money, consider signing up for a SoFi Checking and Savings®. Open a checking and savings account today.
With the SoFi Checking and Savings app, you can easily customize account alerts right from your phone.
You can also set up a two-factor authentication—including the option for fingerprint recognition—via the SoFi Checking and Savings app.
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