ACH (Automated Clearing House) fraud is the modern form of check fraud. The main information needed to pull it off are the account number and routing number printed on the bottom of checks. Typically it also requires access to your online banking account. Luckily there are several layers of security available to help protect yourself from fraud. We will give you six things you can do to protect your bank account.
1. Use good passwords
It should be difficult for others to get access to your bank account. A good password is the easiest thing you can do to protect your account. Do not reuse passwords across different accounts or sites, especially your online banking, email account, credit card accounts, PayPal, and so on. If one is compromised, then all of your accounts are compromised. Please read our recent post about passwords for more details on managing passwords.
2. Multi-factor authentification
This will help protect you even if your password is compromised. It requires you to enter additional information in order to access your account. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most common is through a text message. Your bank sends you a code through a text message. You enter your password and that code. Check with your bank to see what they offer.
3. Use antivirus software
Make sure you have an antivirus program installed. Yes, even on a Mac. A common way to gain access to your online banking account is tricking you into installing malware. The malware captures the keystrokes you type and sends it to the bad guys.
Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender are good options. Do not let money get in the way of using antivirus. Avast or AVG are good free antivirus programs.
4. Avoid open WiFi
It’s nice to conserve the data on your smartphone plan, but using free public WiFi can cause problems. Anyone else connected to that WiFi network can see everything you do. We haven’t covered using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), but that’s the only safe way to use a free, open WiFi network. If you entered a password to join the WiFi network, then you are in good shape.
5. Monitor your account
Setup alerts on your account activity. Your bank will send you a text message or email for the types of transactions you specify. Refer to your bank’s online help or ask someone at the branch for help if you need help setting up the alerts.
6. Filter ACH transactions
Some banks allow you to automatically reject ACH transfers for some given reason. Examples of this are not allowing transfers over a specified amount, only allowing pre-authorized transfers or completing the transfer only after you have reviewed them. Check with your bank to see what they have available.