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Taking care of your Bank accounts

Monday, November 13, 2017
By Anand Aras

Anand Aras, CEO, Banking Codes and Standards Board of India

Today opening a bank account is a lot simpler. However, once opened, it is equally important to take care of the bank accounts by diligently following the relevant set of rules and regulations for a hassle -free banking experience. With the government’s focus on financial inclusion and the present trend of a shift to a near cashless society following large scale digitization, there are many new bank customers and fresh entrants into the digital banking space. Here are a few pointers for bank customers for an orderly and safe conduct of their bank accounts.

If the customer opts for a Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) Account, it is important to know that only bare minimum facilities are available and that there are restrictions on the number of withdrawals permitted per month and the amount that can be deposited in a year. On the other hand, if a regular account is opened, depending on the type of account selected by the customer, the bank account provides a number of facilities like pass book, cheque book, Rupay Card, ATM –cum-debit card, credit card etc.

In case a customer prefers to have multiple accounts with various Banks, it is important that one keeps in mind the various terms and conditions related to the accounts namely minimum balance to be maintained, total relationship value in case of higher value based accounts, number of free cash transactions allowed or charges if any for any other value added services.

It is important to register the current address, phone number, mobile number and/or email id at the time of opening of the bank account so that the Bank can contact the customer and also send necessary alerts relating to transactions in the account. Therefore in case of change in personal details like name, residential address, mobile number, email id etc, it is necessary to update these details with the Bank.

Further, the customer should remember to update the passbooks to ascertain whether all cash deposited/withdrawn are duly reflected in the account along with all other transactions including auto debits are correct. In case the customer has opted for internet banking, the customer can view the statement online. It is important to immediately inform the banker in case of an erroneous entry in the passbook/statement of account.

If a customer has a debit card and he/she chooses to withdraw from the ATMs, there may be charges particularly for transactions on another Bank’s ATM beyond a threshold. The customer also needs to know that there are restrictions on the amount of cash, depending on the number of withdrawals one has made during a specific period and the number of times that cash can be deposited in non- home branches. Hence a customer should plan the monthly expenses, so that he/she can avail the free ATM withdrawal facility within the free transactions threshold.

The customer also needs to keep a watch on the minimum balance that is maintained in the accounts because non- maintenance of minimum balance will attract penal charges. The customer should operate the account regularly because in case of no operations for a specific period, the account may turn inoperative and its revival involves a bit of procedure.

There is a host of facilities available with Bank accounts and the customer should also be aware of the terms and conditions of the products and the service charges for the same.

The customer needs to keep cheque books and debit/credit cards safely. One should not sign blank cheque leaves as a matter of abundant precaution. In case of debit cards and credit cards, customer preferably should mask the CVV number on the obverse of the card and  memorize the pin number. The customer should not keep the pin numbers and card details together or share the PIN details with anyone including friends/relatives.

In the event of cheque book, passbook or ATM/credit card being stolen, the customer should take immediate steps to stop payment of the unused cheques and block the ATM/credit card.

With regard to unauthorized debits in respect of electronic banking transactions, there has been a recent regulatory circular issued in July this year by which the customer’s liability is zero if reported immediately or within three days. There will be some liability on the customer if the unauthorized transaction is reported beyond three days. One can get more details on this by checking with one’s Bank.

So if the customer follows certain basic precautions, he/she will enjoy the banking experience minus the pinpricks. Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) still applies when dealing with your Bank.

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