Banking: How to protect your money
Digital banking strategies
How I’m protecting myself against fraud and exploitation
Years ago I discovered how beneficial online banking really is. In Ohio, Social Security started phasing out paper checks and encouraging recipients to get direct deposit. That’s because they’ve had to replace multiple paper checks that were sent out through the mail, only for them to be lost or stolen whilxe recipients waited for those checks to arrive. I’m glad I never had this happen and I got direct deposit years before it was required. Together with auto bill pay and a few other strategies, you should never ever need a financial POA as long as certain strategies are strictly practiced.
Auto bill pay
Auto bill pay is a convenient tool that can actually come in handy should you become incapacitated. Online auto bill pay should only be set up from your end. Letting companies come in and get their money leaves you sitting duck to be ripped off, there’s been many sad stories of this happening even close to home. I never do business with anyone who requires access to my bank account. In Ohio, I can turn to the Attorney General and report even potential fraudsters because by law, businesses are required to provide written information, including a copy of the bill which is also written information. If I go to sign up for a new service and they require access to my bank account, I just asked for a copy of the bill. If they refuse, they broke the law and I can report it. Don’t think that if you face the same thing that there’s nothing you can do, there’s much you can do. If a company you’re considering doing business with won’t provide a copy of the bill, that’s a huge red flag and it’s not a good idea to do business with them. Bills can be sent either through the mail or even email.
Setting up auto transfers after bills allows you to transfer money worry free. Auto bill pay and auto transfers can be done while you sleep. While everyone else is running around on payday, you can be doing other things. Yes, you can do better things with your time while letting automated banking work for you. You set up the transfers from your end and select specific accounts and amounts. You set up the frequency of the transfers, and you can adjust the amounts anytime.
Building up a savings requires changing how you handle your own money. Parking the car more often, having no car, and living below your means is especially helpful in building your savings.
* Part of saving money requires eliminating money wasting habits to free up more money. Sit down and make a list of all of your monthly expenses. Now, list the cost of each thing on your list. Close every single loophole, leaving no wiggle room for overspending, which means lending money to anyone. It’s different if you see someone in need, but don’t give them money, buy them what they need and give it to them. That way, you know where your money went because you help needy people directly instead of giving money, especially to charity.
Why I never give money to charity
I don’t give money to charity because first, I can’t afford it. Second, too many of them end up pocketing the money or misappropriating it. During a certain 2017 hurricane crisis, the Red Cross for instance was videotaped taking food away from hurricane victims and there was video proof of them even throwing donations in the trash because they claim they could get more. If you ever wonder why some charities always need money, this is only one example of why. That’s because money is often wasted by throwing out peoples hard earned money when they bought those donations and donated them to a specific charity for a specific purpose. Misappropriated funds and goods doesn’t help no one, and I personally would much rather help someone in person by buying what they need and giving it to them directly. This is actually how it should be. In our town, we have a specific charity near downtown that refuses to help much of anyone since they got a new building and come to find out they no longer carry adult clothes. Also come to find out, children’s clothes and even the food are much harder to get. Add another charity, and inside source revealed how workers working the food bank would pick through all the food and keep the best stuff for themselves. That’s not right when you have people out there who really do need that food for worse than those workers who can easily buy their own. It doesn’t pay to donate to charity if they’re only going to turn around and misappropriate funds and goods that only legitimately needy people are entitled to. This is another form of fraud I want no part of. All of this is exactly why I’d rather use some of my own money and help someone who needs something by buying them what they need and giving it to them. Furthermore, you never know when you may actually make someone’s day because giving to them directly is a more personal approach if done from the heart. Anytime you can put a smile on the face of someone who most needs help is a task well done and a day worth spent.
No car? Contact your state and local officials and complain, there’s power in numbers!
Inability to obtain a car is a problem for many. Having no car can be especially detrimental if you have medical reasons why you need one. If you have none and happen to live alone and have no outside help especially with getting a car, you of all people need transportation more than most people who have someone who can give them a lift. This is where automated banking can help you if it’s set up right. I’m sorry that the cash for clunkers program caused more harm than good because now certain groups of people who most need vehicles can’t get a car because newer cars are too expensive and if you don’t make enough you can’t even get a car loan. That’s not right and things really need to change. People really need to start speaking up and contacting their state and local officials and really complaining. It takes years to save up enough money for a more expensive car if you’re alone with no family and on fixed income and can’t get any kind of affordable car loan to fit your budget.
Why I never carry cash
I no longer carry cash because there’s no way to actually trace where my money went. I prefer to have a record with my bank since the bank keeps accurate records of where our money goes. I won’t do business with no one who doesn’t have a card reader. If they don’t have a card reader, they don’t get my business or my money.
Another reason why I never carry cash is because it can be lost or stolen. If you ever lose your wallet and you have cash in it, there’s no way to recover it if it goes missing. Another thing to consider is just using your debit card and running it as credit is much quicker and easier. There’s no cash to drop and lose and records are kept with your bank for each transaction. Call it a type of digital checkbook.
Why I don’t write checks, money orders or the like
Should you become incapacitated and need someone to come in and help you, not having a checkbook makes it harder for someone to take advantage of me. In some YouTube videos I’ve seen scenarios where a caregiver will start going through the elders things and looking for checkbooks, debit cards and regular credit cards. This is often how fraudsters gain access to your account. Not having a checkbook makes it harder for anyone to steal your money. Even if you had nothing in the bank it’ll put you in the negative and the fraudster would leave you holding the bag. Writing checks and money orders is time consuming anyway, so I just went paperless and set up online auto bill pay (only from my end).
I don’t carry cash, I only use my debit card. Running it as credit is far more secure than running it as debit, requiring you to type in your pin number (not secure). Having to type in your pin number, your info can easily be stolen and any hacker can easily gain access to your bank account if there’s ever a breach. This is why a banker once told me to only run my debit card as credit. That’s why I won’t do business with any store who won’t let me run my card as credit and requires my pin number. Such used to be the case with our local Aldie’s. It was a cash register surprise and I ended up leaving everything and going across the street but not before warning everyone coming in. Aldie’s must’ve lost enough business to pressure them into improving their system to allow people to run their debit cards as credit because now they do. I just don’t want my financial security info breached, even if it’s said pin numbers are never stored. I just won’t take that chance and will walk in a heartbeat.
Besides saving trees, paperless bank statements also make it harder for anyone to find out where you bank or how much money you have by going paperless.
I just discovered how beneficial it is to move all of your money out of state or even offshore. This can make it harder for anyone to gain access to your money if someone is looking to target you specifically. You just don’t want to see your life savings go down the drain, which is also why it’s never a good idea to have a joint account.
* Having a joint account can leave you sitting duck for someone to clean you out, leaving you high and dry, especially when you need something. Regardless of if the joint account is with a spouse or some other individual, too many people are dishonest and crooked enough to be tempted with money. This is why it’s really not a good idea to have a joint account since someone can come back on you since they gave you half of the funds after bills. In some cases where someone becomes incapacitated and requires guardianship, they won’t be able to touch you if you’re judgment proof, and if you happen to not be in the wrong for anything.
* In other cases if you either made a mistake or did something wrong, you might be required to recover the money and the guardian could come after you if you have anything valuable that can be liquidated such as lots of money or other assets. This is another good reason why it’s not a good idea to have joint accounts or let anyone persuade you into commingling your money. Don’t let anyone pressure you into this no matter what. If you happen to get Social Security and use an out of state able account that happens to lack a debit card or electronic funds transfer, it’s much harder to get anything from you. Never share your device with anyone and never share your login info on any type of account be it banking or social media, just don’t share any login info or even your device. One thing to remember is if you’re ever defrauded and you catch it and report it early enough, the bank can recover your money. That’s what FDIC insurance is for.
Need a lawyer but on fixed income? Sometimes things come up that requires the help of a lawyer but all too often it seems like the legal system is just for the rich. That’s why if you need a lawyer it’s best to call your State Bar Association and tell them your situation and that you’re either on low or fixed income like Social Security and your matter really needs urgent help.
* Calling your state bar association will save you the hassle of calling different lawyers and being told they require an exorbitant upfront fee you’ll never be able to come up with in a timely manner. Such was the case when dealing with discovered fraud after my bio dad with Alzheimer’s died. I knew something wasn’t right and come to find out I was definitely right and so was everyone around me because the fraudster was found and now we know what happened to my dad and his Ford motor life insurance proceeds. I wish I would’ve been able to remember the Bar Association early on because I probably would’ve settled the estate much sooner. From a legal matter arises, your state bar association should be your first call, especially if you’re on low or fixed income like Social Security. Any good honest lawyer will work on contingency and only take a third or fourth of your winnings.
While digital banking is convenient and more secure than the old school ways of banking, you must protect your info and bank account as much as you would your wallet when people carried cash. Just think of your bank account as a digital wallet and don’t give no one access to it. Auto bill pay is convenient but should only be set up from your end, never give anyone access to your bank account for the collection of bills. Only set up auto bill pay from your end and don’t do business with anyone requiring access to your bank account, too many people have been ripped off by companies who had access to customers’ bank accounts.
* The more digital banking strategies you practice, the safer your financial future will be with proper money management. Not overspending is key to building that savings. Taking the right steps to protect your money now will make it hard for anyone to take advantage of you later but it’s up to you to be stubborn enough to firmly stand your ground and even call authorities if necessary.
A final tip is to never answer the door to unexpected company and definitely don’t take calls from unrecognized number is not in your contact list. Doing so opens you up to a whole host of problems that could lead to someone’s getting money from you. Keep your doors locked especially if you live alone and protect your windows against peeping toms
About the author
This author has dealt with the aftermath of elder financial abuse and exploitation and has experience with digital banking.