Detecting unauthorized account transactions quickly is critical in preventing financial loss. But did you realize that the time limits for notifying your bank of fraud activity varies depending on the type of transaction, payment method and whether it’s a business or consumer account? If you don’t report the fraud and complete the necessary dispute forms within the allowable timeline, you could end up being responsible. This could lead to the available funds in your account being drained, resulting in a bunch of overdraft fees. Have a revolving line of credit tied to your checking account? That's at risk for fraud too.

If you’re using an online banking system to originate ACH credit transactions and wire transfers, you’re at an even higher risk.

Is your bank prepared to combat these risks and help educate you on how to protect your account?

Checking and savings accounts are at risk to all types of fraud. Fraudulent checks, unauthorized ACH debit transactions, fraudulent wires and debit card transactions… all of these can drain your account. But who has time to watch online banking 24/7?

With consumer (non-business) accounts comes the luxury of extended dispute windows thanks to Regulation E. If your bank isn’t automating the monitoring process, though, disputing these types of fraud is very inconvenient and time-consuming. Meanwhile, access to your funds can become an issue.

Businesses – large corporations and small mom-and-pops – are another story all together. Businesses are not protected by Regulation E, but instead fall under Article 4 of the UCC (UCC-4A) rules. The result? A very limited dispute window of approximately 48 hours to return certain types of transactions. Yep, just 48 hours!

To protect your account, it’s important that your bank offers real-time, actionable alerts that allow you to quickly respond to suspected fraud activity. Ideally, before the funds even leave your account.

The risk associated with electronic payments does not lie in the payment networks themselves. Banks that process these kinds of payments do a great job of securing access to the networks. Breakdowns most often occur when:

So, essentially, the highest threat comes from how account holders protect their debit card information, account information or computers. And that’s something that no bank – including yours – can combat.

Banks are encouraged to implement layers of security, so that if one security layer fails, it can be compensated by another layer. The banks that have had the most success fighting cyber fraud are the ones that engage their customers when suspicious activity is detected. After all, only you can know with 100% certainty if you want a transaction to be paid or returned.

To protect your accounts from fraudulent transactions, it’s important to stay educated on the various schemes out there and to be careful about opening attachments or clicking links in emails from someone you don’t know (and even sometimes those you do!). Protecting your computer is the best first step. Keep malware and anti-virus systems up-to-date.

More importantly, work with a bank that actively educates you on risks and best practices, offering technology solutions that can help you identify and respond to suspicious activity quickly. You’ll probably have to pay a fee if they offer a multi-layered, convenient technology solution, because they’re paying a technology provider to deliver it. It’s worth it.

If your bank offers you a reasonable solution and you don’t take it because you don’t want to pay for it, or you think it’s too much trouble to use, you’ll end up taking the loss if you become a victim.