Bank account numbers are openly disclosed and visible on every check, so there must be no problem with safety, right?
The vast majority of people will not have any problems, but if an identity thief has your bank account number, along with a few more pieces of easily obtainable information, they could do devastating things to your account.
Banks do have safeguards in place to help protect their customers, but regularly reviewing your account activity will allow you to more quickly find any discrepancies and get them fixed.
If you find any unauthorized withdrawals or deposits, then you should contact your bank immediately to resolve the issue.
They can withdraw money from your account
What could someone do with your bank account number? First of all, with additional information, they could withdraw money from your account.
When paying by check, you are giving away your bank account and bank routing numbers
, as well as your name and signature, and you are probably giving away your address as well.
Some stores even require your driver’s license number written on the check.
With this information, a determined criminal could print official-looking checks with your information, draining your account when they used them.
They could even deposit checks from your account into another account with remote capture deposit.
They use your account number for online shopping
ACH transfers, electronic, bank-to-bank transfer processed by the Automated Clearing House network, could also be used online to remove money from your account if the wrong person has the information from one of your checks.
A major online retailer that accepts ACH transfers for payment is Amazon.
When using this payment method, the person will need to enter your routing number and bank account number, as well as your name, address and driver’s license number.
Except for the driver’s license, these are all common details available on checks. Someone could also set up direct billing to your account.
They Deposit money to your account
But not everything about your bank account number is gloom and doom. Someone can deposit money into your account if they have your account and routing numbers. The bank may require an ID from the depositor so there is a name attached to the person making the deposit.
While it may seem like a great thing to find a pile of extra money in your account, it would be wise to be wary of where it came from.
It could be from something illegal, even if you know nothing about it. It could also be a bank error, in which case they will be taking it back, so definitely do not just spend it thinking it was a gift from the bank fairy.
Banks do have safeguards to help protect your account, but they are not always perfect.
With your bank account number and other personal details, someone could deposit questionable money into your account, or they could use your money to go shopping.
Be careful when using checks, as you are giving away information that should remain personal every time you write a check.
When entering information on websites, be cautious about giving away too much. Being aware of the potential risks of giving away personal information should help you to avoid problems in the future.
What to Do If Someone Else Uses Your Account Number
If you’ve noticed an unauthorized transaction on your bank statement or know that someone has used your bank account number, there are a few steps to take to protect yourself.
First, you should contact your bank as soon as possible
. Legally, you’ll need to notify your bank within 60 days of your statement to avoid paying for any unauthorized ACH transactions.
Your bank’s fraud department can help you get unauthorized charges reversed and help you avoid identity theft issues in the future.
What can someone do with a bank account number? With bank safeguards and policies in place, people generally can’t do much with just a bank account number and a routing number.
However, in this day and age, a quick web search makes it easy to obtain other pieces of information such as a person’s address and phone number, which can then lead to potential problems.
Best case scenario — someone can deposit money into your account.
Worst case scenario — they can use your information to go online shopping. Practicing caution when paying with checks and when entering personal information on websites can help prevent headaches in the future.