Tip #2: How to Review Your Bank and Credit Card Statements for Fraud

SAWTuesday

What’s the most important step you can take to prevent identity theft? Review your account transactions on a regular basis. Regardless of how you receive your statements or banking information (paper statements, eStatements, Online or Mobile Banking), reviewing your account information is crucial to catching fraudulent transactions.

First, look at each line item on your statement or in Online or Mobile Banking:

  • Review each item to see if you recall the transaction.
  • If you have a joint account, make sure to ask the other account owner about transactions you do not recognize.
  • If you see an item you believe is an unauthorized charge contact Merchants Bank immediately.

Next, review your transactions for a prenote.

A prenote is a normally a zero-dollar transaction sent to test the validity of an account. For the most part, prenotes are used by banks or other businesses you have authorized to set up electronic transfers. However, some fraudsters have started collecting account information by using prenote transactions. If you do not recognize the name or business associated with a prenote transaction on your statement or in Online Banking, contact Merchants Bank immediately (see numbers above).

Then, review your transactions for a pre-authorization.

A pre-authorization is a transaction sent to secure funds for a payment. For example, if you book a hotel online you might have a pre-authorization on your card in the amount of the hotel room but the hotel would not actually charge your card the amount until your stay is complete. It’s important to note that pre-authorization does affect the available balance in your account on a debit card or available credit on a credit card.

Fraudsters are now using pre-authorization to test the value of card numbers.

  • For debit cards: Fraudsters pre-authorize thousands of dollars to see what the account is worth. Typically pre-authorization will appear in your Merchants Online Banking account as a red “pending” transaction and never change to black.
  • For credit cards: Fraudsters pre-authorize small dollar amounts to see if the card number is valid. Typically pre-authorization will appear on http://www.mycardstatement.com in the Pending transactions section of your account and never move to the Transaction view of your account.
  • If you do not recognize the name or business associated with a pre-authorization in Online or Mobile Banking, contact Merchants Bank immediately (see numbers above).

Finally, make it a habit to review your financial transactions at least monthly. You know your spending history better than anyone and that makes you the best person to detect a fraudulent transaction on your account(s). If you want to access your account information more frequently, consider enrolling in Merchants Bank Online or Mobile Banking. Make sure to save your debit and credit card receipts to compare them against your statement.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.