You work hard for your money, so knowing how to protect it is incredibly important. A bank account can be a great option to keep your money accessible and safe.
Why is it safe to keep your money in a bank?
FirstBank is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), an independent government agency that protects depositors against the loss of their deposits (the money they keep in an account) if an FDIC-insured bank fails. To spot an FDIC-covered bank, look for the official sign that banks must display.
A person does not have to be a U.S. citizen or resident to have their deposits insured by the FDIC, and in the unlikely event your bank suffers significant financial setbacks or loses money, your funds are insured and replaced. Since the FDIC's creation in 1933, no depositor has lost any FDIC-insured deposits.
The FDIC does not cover credit unions; however, credit unions are also backed by a federal agency called the National Credit Union Administration.
If you don't have a Social Security number, you can still get a bank account with an ITIN or individual taxpayer number. Here's how to get an ITIN:
- Fill out a W7 form at IRS.gov.
- Submit proof of identity such as a passport, driver's license, Visa, National ID card, etc.
- Mail in your application or take it to an IRS office near you by searching on the IRS's website.
Another bonus of keeping your money in a bank, bank relationships can also help protect you from fraudulent purchases. If someone were to get your card information to make unauthorized purchases, you have the option of disputing the charge and getting your money back. But if you keep large stashes of cash hidden at home or in your wallet, and someone steals it or a house fire breaks out, you may never see that money again.
The amount insured by the FDIC varies depending on the ownership type of the account but generally covers each customer up to $250,000 per insured bank. In other words, if you and your spouse have joint accounts and keep up to $500,000 in them, you would still be fully insured because it covers each depositor (customer) up to $250,000.
Alternatively, if you are the sole account owner across several accounts and have more than $250,000, you might consider adding another signer, opening another account with a different ownership category (joint vs. single), or moving those additional funds to another bank.
Please look at the coverage chart below to see the different ownership categories and how they are covered.
How to Protect Yourself from Scams, Identity Theft, and More
While banks can offer several protections when it comes to safeguarding your money, it's important to know how to protect your funds from criminals, too.
Fraud is rampant, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported over two million fraud cases in 2020 alone. Although many scams exist, here are a couple of common ones to watch out for.
Identity Theft and Financial Fraud
Identity theft happens when criminals steal a person's personal financial information, such as name, address, birth date, Social Security Number, account or debit number, and credit card numbers to commit fraud and potentially make unauthorized purchases using their money. Scammers use a variety of tactics to trick unsuspecting victims into giving out this information, but you can protect yourself by following a few simple rules.
- Never provide personal or financial information during a telephone call that you did not make.
- Do not give out sensitive information over text, email, or phone to anyone claiming to represent a contest, giveaway, financial institution, or government agency; this is often a trick to get your money and information.
- Do not respond to emails claiming there is a problem with your credit/debit card or account. Instead, go to your local branch or call your bank's number directly to see if there are issues with your funds.
- Keep important documents locked up in a safe location and never carry your Social Security card in your purse or wallet. All it takes is a lost wallet for fraudsters to be on track to stealing your identity.
- Protect your digital devices with secure passwords and always keep them in your possession. Unlocked smartphones in particular can be mined for sensitive and financial information, so be sure to lock your screen and use password protections for any critical apps.
- Sign up for online banking as well as text/email alerts and check your accounts daily to make sure there is no suspicious activity. If you see charges that do not belong to you, contact your bank immediately.
- Lastly, notify your bank or credit union if you change your address; otherwise, you risk having replacement cards or personal information sent to the wrong address.
No bank, credit union or government agency will contact you and request sensitive information over email or phone.
And, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Victim of Fraud?
Fraud can happen even if you have been careful. Luckily, there are protections in place to help you.
If you think your personal or account information has been compromised, notify your local bank representative immediately by visiting us online at efirstbank.com or calling 1-800-964-34441-866-239-6000.
If you believe your identity has been stolen, you can place a fraud alert on your credit report which will prevent thieves from using your identity to open credit cards and loans in your name. If an alert is active, creditors will take extra steps to verify your identity before granting credit to the person claiming to be you.
To place a security freeze or issue an alert, you will need to contact each credit bureau independently:
- Equifax: 800-685-1111 or visit the Equifax website.
- Experian: 888-397-3742 or visit the Experian website.
- TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or visit the TransUnion website.
- Keep your money in an account backed by the FDIC or NCUA. Individually-owned single accounts are covered up to $250,000 and you have options that provide additional coverage.
- Do not share your credit or debit card information, including your PIN, with others.
- Review your account statements frequently for signs of unusual activity.
- Never give out personal or account information over the phone or via email.
- Keep sensitive documents such as your Social Security card or ITIN, in a safe location, do not carry them with you.