The Center For Debt Management
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Five Things You Should Know About
Checks and Checking Accounts

  1. Shop around for a good deal, preferably an account without a monthly maintenance fee. Banks usually offer several accounts to choose from with different features, fees, interest rates, opening balance requirements and so on. And remember that what's good for your parents or your friends may not be best for you.

  2. Keep your checkbook up to date by recording all transactions, including ATM withdrawals, bank fees, purchases you make using a debit card, and any other deductions that do not involve writing a check.

    Also promptly compare your checkbook with your monthly statement or review your account information online or by telephone.

  3. Avoid "overdrawing your account," which can happen if you write a check or otherwise attempt to withdraw (by mistake) more money than you have in your account. It also is possible to overdraw your account using your debit card at the ATM or when making a purchase. These transactions can be costly.

  4. Consider Internet (online) banking. This service allows you to make payments or move money from one account to another through your bank's Web site instead of (or in addition to) writing and mailing paper checks. This saves on the costs of postage and buying paper checks.

    Online banking also allows you to monitor your account without having to wait for a statement in the mail.

  5. Pay attention to your bank statements. Immediately report any errors or unauthorized transactions (to protect yourself from accusations that you were negligent in managing your account).

    Look at your statement as soon as possible after it arrives in the mail or monitor your account more regularly on the Internet or through your bank's telephone banking service.

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