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.
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 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.
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.
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.