It’s no secret that committing bank fraud is a crime. But it may come as a surprise to learn just how many seemingly innocent behaviors can trigger an alert from the bank. The following are four daily activities that have been known to cause banks to flag customers for potentially fraudulent activity, plus a few tips for what to do instead.
Banks and creditors rely on behavioral patterns more often than you think, so having a sudden upswing with multiple purchases at places you don’t typically shop will raise some concerns.
What to do instead: Changing your spending behavior repeatedly is typically a sign that something is happening that’s causing you to react with some retail therapy. Instead, consider other outlets to channel your energy or consider diving into the issue that’s causing such an abrupt change. If you do get into a situation where you went overboard with your spending, use something like this debt payoff calculator to figure out how you can get it paid off before too much interest accrues, raising the cost of your purchases.
If you’re planning to spend some serious cash on an expensive item, then you might raise some suspicions at your bank, especially if you’re generally not someone who buys big-ticket items.
What to do instead: Notify your bank before making any large purchases that are over $1,000. You don’t need their permission to spend your money, but letting them know you’re planning to put some big, luxury items on your card can give them a chance to remove any spending limits temporarily.
The most prevalent sign of identity theft is when small purchases made outside of the country show up on your statements, so banks keep a close eye on where purchases are made. If they notice purchases are being made in a foreign country and aren’t sure what’s going on, they’ll default to freezing the account and denying any transactions until they speak with you to figure out what’s happening.
What to do instead: The last thing you want is for your card to be declined in some remote location, so alert your bank if you’ll be out of the country. They’ll typically want to know which countries you’ll be traveling to and the dates you’ll be away so they can mark it on your account.
Gift cards are popular ways for credit cardholders to convert their reward points, but they’re also one of the first things identity thieves will steal if they get ahold of your account details. Reward point theft is rampant, and if your credit card company sees that an excessive amount of cards are being purchased with points, they may flag your account as being compromised and send you a fraud alert.
What to do instead: If you have legitimate reasons for buying gift cards in bulk, then you can either let your bank know ahead of time or split them up between different cards. If you receive a fraud alert trigger because of your gift card buying, respond to it as quickly as possible to get the flag taken off your account so you can use your card freely.
It’s essential to be aware of your bank’s security procedures and avoid behaviors that might trigger an alert so that your card isn’t declined at the worst time. To avoid being caught in an awkward situation with no access to money, remember these four daily behaviors that could set off red flags with your bank and what you can do to avoid getting your account turned off.