Tips for using text banking, alerts safely

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Tips for using text banking, alerts safely

A Mobile banking user

In a world of fancy apps that let you deposit cheques from your mobile phone, it might seem archaic to use text messages to check your bank account balance.

But there are some very good reasons to rely on that old-fashioned technology to help you manage your bank account, according to

The main benefits of text banking are that you can stay up-to-date on your account (without manually checking in on things) and you can accomplish simple tasks quickly.


This is similar to what most banks in Nigeria called USSD Banking or Quick Banking.

Why text?

You can always login to your bank’s website or use an app – and you can probably get more done that way – so what do you gain by using text messages? Texts are fast and simple:

No need to log in with a username and password – just send (or get) a quick message

No need to click past promos pitching bank products that you don’t need

The data transmission is minimal, which helps when connections are slow

You don’t need to use your data plan at all (although you will need a texting plan)

Text messages are probably most useful for keeping tabs on your account. It’s wise to monitor your accounts by logging in periodically and reviewing account activity. This helps you find out about problems before they get out of hand.

Unfortunately, logging in (usually to find that all is well) takes time and effort. It’s easier to set up alerts that you’ll only get if certain situations arise.

Different banks allow you to set up different rules, but many of them update you to important events in your account. Some of these are listed below

Low balance alerts: find out when your account balance falls below a certain threshold (you can often set this threshold to an amount that you’re comfortable with). This helps you avoid bouncing cheques and missing electronic payments (which helps you avoid late fees and overdraft charges), plus you’ll hear about fraud and errors before they run your account dry.

Large withdrawals: you might also want to know when money leaves your account and where it goes. If so, set up a rule that sends a text for every withdrawal – or just the ones above a certain naira limit. However, be aware that thieves sometimes keep fraudulent withdrawals small so that they go unnoticed (and repeated withdrawals can add up). It’s still a good idea to log in periodically to review transactions. You need to notify your bank promptly for certain protections against fraud and errors.

All transactions (or just withdrawals): Do you want to be notified about every transaction in your account? Some banks offer this feature. Just be sure you don’t train yourself to ignore these messages if they’re too numerous.

Log-in notifications: Your bank can let you know if somebody logged in to your account, or if somebody logged in from a new device.

Debit card use: if you’re worried about your debit card number being stolen, look for alerts telling you when the card number was used or if the card was denied.

Account changes: most banks automatically send a confirmation of any account updates, but it’s a good idea to sign up for as many of these possible. For example, you’ll want to know if anybody changes the username, password, email address on file, or security questions.

Likewise, a new mailing address or an unexpected change to paperless statements can be a sign of identity theft.

First Published on Punch Newspaper

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