If you’ve been paying attention to the dips in the market, you may be wondering if the money you have in the bank has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as well. Rest assured that your money is safe and that there are things you can do to keep yourself safe when going about your banking business, as well. For example:
1. Keep Your Money in the Bank
You may be questioning whether now is the right time to take cash out of your accounts, but bear in mind that any cash you have in an FDIC-insured institution is insured up to FDIC limits—meaning it is federally protected against bank failure or theft, usually to the tune of $250,000 per depositor, per bank. That means banks are one of the safest places to actually keep your money right now.
2. Set Up Direct Deposit
If you still receive physical checks from your employer that you usually deposit at a branch, ask your HR or Payroll department if it’s possible to sign up for direct deposit now so that you can avoid heading into a bank location to get your money. (You can also use virtual banking in most cases to deposit physical checks. More on that directly below.)
3. Use Virtual Banking When You Can
Most banks make it easier than ever to perform most of your banking directly from your phone or computer. If you have an online account set up or the banking app on your mobile phone, you can check your balances, transfer money, pay bills and even deposit checks without ever leaving your house. This makes it easy to avoid heading into a branch at all. If you do need to visit a branch for cash we have asked our customer to us the drive-through or ATM to minimize contact with other people. Click here for tips on keeping your data secure when using digital banking.
4. Keep Your Credit or Debit Card Handy
In the weeks to come, consider using your credit or debit card for transactions as much as possible. What we know about the spreading of the coronavirus is changing and evolving every day, but since cash often passes through many hands, it’s best to play it safe and avoid using it whenever you can.
How to Avoid Fraud During COVID-19
Unfortunately, fraudsters are always finding new ways to scam unsuspecting or uninformed people, and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. Staying smart about the latest scams should always be part of your overall financial wellness, but now more than ever it’s important to be aware and to understand how to best protect yourself.
1. Stay Up-to-Date on New Scams
Scammers are using fear over the coronavirus to trick people into handing over their money. According to the FTC, scammers are pitching everything from work-at-home schemes to fake Coronavirus treatments. Scammers are also posing as the WHO, CDC or other government or health-related organizations that appear to be “official” in order to make their schemes more convincing to consumers.
2. Understand the Ways Your Bank Will Communicate with You
Scammers often disguise themselves as tellers or other employees from a bank in order to trick people into share their personal banking details with them. This is why it’s important to understand the things your bank wouldn’t do.
For example, bankers never call and ask for sensitive information over the phone, pressure you to provide information or give you a timeline for providing information. Hang up on any robocalls you receive and ignore online offers, emails or texts that come through with claims regarding the Coronavirus. You can also verify bank phone numbers by hanging up and then calling your bank back directly from a number on the back of your credit card or off of the bank’s official website.
Be cautious of links and attachments on emails and text messages. Clicking malicious links or attachments can install malware on your computer or device that steals your personal information.
3. Update Your Passwords
Even if you think your passwords are strong, if you haven’t changed them in a while, now is a good time to do so. Using a combination of letters, numbers, cases and punctuation is always a good place to start. For more suggestions on how to protect your financial data, click here.
4. Monitor Your Accounts Frequently
Online banking makes it easy to log on to your account regularly to ensure all transactions look accurate. It’s also a good idea to check in on your credit report and to be on the lookout for any fishy details. One tip: Everyone gets one free credit report per year per credit reporting agency, so set a reminder every three months to check in with a different agency to cover yourself throughout the entire year.
The FTC and the FDA are doing everything they can to crack down on coronavirus scams and fraud, but some personal vigilance helps, as well. Follow the steps above and you can rest assured that you’re doing everything possible to keep your cash as safe as possible.
Be sure to talk to your family as well, as older adults and children may not always understand the risks involved in sharing personal information, clicking suspicious links or other potential threats. If you have any questions at all, a Fifth Third banking representative is ready to help.