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I have some money in BOA savings/checking, and I am afraid of someone stealing the money, through credit card or of someone getting access to my online account credentials, and transferring all the money out. What are my options?

I have talked to customer care specialist in BOA and they say your money is safe and we will cover entire amount. I also asked if this is written somewhere and they say it is written in your package when you opened your account. Are they lying? Or trying not to give me enough documentation so in case if this happens they can show some contract which says they are not responsible.

Please understand, I am not familiar with how money works as I never had any money in my accounts worth enough to worry about. Now that I have something I am afraid if someone steals it.

Seems like this might be what BOA customer service was referring to? https://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/

How does this work, and is there something I need to do so I am covered by it? Should I be getting a certificate or something? Is BOA under the scope of this Deposit insurance? Where can I find that BOA is covered by it. I am very concerned about my money disappearing. I am looking for some kind of assurance from BOA but all they say is "yes your money is safe" and ask me to go to FDIC. Moreover, their customer service team says they don't know anything.

Does it cover me if someone steals my money?

Whether cash or online - when someone hacks my computer and transfers all my money.

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    "they say it is written in your package when you opened your account. Are they lying?" The best person to answer this is you, who has the package. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 3:01
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    A credit card can not draw from a bank account (although you can choose to pay your credit card bill from your bank account). A debit card issued by the bank, sometimes called or labelled a 'check' card, does do so -- but if done fraudulently in USA and you report it promptly you are protected by regulation E. Although they look almost identical credit and debit cards (and other types like gift/prepaid and charge) are not the same and you should pay attention to the differences. Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 21:54
  • @DJClayworth I will go through my package again. Thanks for your response!
    – User167234
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 2:24

5 Answers 5

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how safe is my money

As safe as it can get. Most Banks would be registered under FDIC. See the list here if a specific bank is covered or not. Bank of America is covered.

How does this work, and is there something I need to do so I am covered by it? Should I be getting a certificate or something?Is BOA under the scope of this Deposit insurance?

It only covers if the bank fails, i.e. goes bankrupt. The FDIC steps in and either oversees a merger of the failed bank with another bank, or in the worst case, pays the depositors upto $250,000.

Does it cover me if someone steals my money?

The FDIC does not cover if someone steals your money.

if someone hacks my computer and transfers all my money?

This will be determined on a case to case basis. If the loss of money is because of your negligence, i.e. you gave your password etc to someone else or did not take enough precautions to safegaurd ... including allowing someone to hack you computer ... in such cases it is a crime and you would need to file police complaint and the bank will on best effort basis try and reverse the transfer.

If this was due to the bank's error; i.e. Bank did not ensure right controls/security was in place resulting in loss of your money, the bank is liable and will pay you back. So cases like someone forged your signature on a check etc. are the bank's responsibility.

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  • thanks!. you said"in such cases it is a crime and you would need to file police complaint and the bank will on best effort basis try and reverse the transfer." This is scary, what if someone really hack my account? can I save my money in a form which cannot be stolen. Like a certificate or something? I do not want a very liquid/easily accessible form of money, and if I have to fill a couple of forms to withdraw. Its fine with me. Better to be safe than (to have convenience of withdrawing money whenever you need it, which also raises the risk of someone having opportunity to steal it)
    – User167234
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 2:20
  • even waiting for a couple of days is not a big deal. This way I can save my lumpsum amounts , and keep only needed money with some buffer in my savings/checking account. Not sure if there is any form of money like that? I heard there are certificates given by US govt.not sure what exactly are those.,and what are its terms and conditions, and where can I find information about it? there should be other options as well? Thanks in advance! if you have some information, please share. I don't want to have blind faith in banks, even if they say I am covered 100%.
    – User167234
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 2:30
  • I am of Indian nationality, so I believe that will also play a factor if I can buy US govt certificates? and if they are actually useful for me?/along with pros and cons..Sorry, if these are lot of questions and stupid questions.
    – User167234
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 3:04
  • @NAASM You can keep the money as certificate deposits or govt bonds. However the risks are similar. One has to be careful in giving personal details.
    – Dheer
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 4:17
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    @NAASM nothing is perfectly safe. I pay for everything with a credit card because if someone "hacks" my credit card (which has happened multiple times) I call the bank and tell them which charges are fraudulent. They reverse those charges, close that card and send me a new one. My checking account is untouched. That's the way to add another barrier between the Bad Guys and your money.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 14:49
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In most cases of fraud, your liability is limited to $50 if you report it within certain number of days (I think 2). After that the liability grows to something like $500. You are covered even if your negligence has caused the breach.

In addition VISA guarantees credit cards - in most cases you have 0 liability.

Finally checking & savings accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000 in case the bank goes bankrupt. The $250,000 is a total for all accounts at the given bank.

It's up to you to report and ask for refund though and sometimes you have to jump through hoops to get it but usually it's fairly straightforward and it usually takes only 2 or 3 days.

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In addition to other good advice: at least in the U.S., there is such a thing as a "safe deposit box" in many/most banks: it is behind many layers of physical safety, and the box itself (about the size of half a shoe-box) needs a key from you, and a key from a bank representative, to open. Many people store investment certificates or cash or other valuables in such boxes.

Since these things are disconnected from the internet, and from your checking account or savings account or debit-card accounts, they cannot be "hacked" in the ways that electronic/internet-accessible things can.

There is some monthly charge for these, but it's relatively small, if you are wanting to store super-valuable things.

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    Relevant: What happens if a bank loses your safe deposit box?
    – Flux
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 4:18
  • @Flux, Yikes... I guess a person has to figure out the relative risks... Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 4:53
  • And they get emptied out due to mistakes on both sides. Or simply the bank branch burns down or gets flooded, which may damage or destroy the contents. None of this is insured or guaranteed by the bank.
    – user71659
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 19:24
  • I'm not sure it's legal to store cash in a safe deposit box, especially large amounts of it. It may be subject to civil forfeiture as well.
    – nuggethead
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 0:07
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There are an infinite number of dangers in the world. You have to learn which ones are common enough and preventible enough to be worth worrying about. For example: why are you worried that your money will be stolen by having your bank account hacked, but not worried that someone will learn that you have money, kidnap you, and hold you for ransom? It's not that your fear about hacking is completely groundless, it's just that still a relatively rare occurrence, and there are other, far more common hazards to worry about. Pickpocketing is still far more common than bank hacking.

As other answers have pointed out, if the bank is hacked due their failure to take appropriate security precautions, you may very well be made whole by insurance (note that FDIC insurance is not the only insurance banks carry).

It's important to be careful so that you personally are not hacked:

  • Choose good passwords.
  • Don't use the same password for multiple accounts, particularly don't use the same password for you bank as for your social media accounts.
  • Take advantage of security measures that your bank offers like two factor authentication.
  • Be very suspicious of strangers seeking your banking information, and NEVER give out your password.
  • Check and balance your bank statements every month.
  • If you have a lot of money that you don't need immediate access to, put it in a certificate of deposit. Not only will it be harder for a scammer or hacker to access, you'll get paid at least a small amount of interest. Not much currently, but more than you'll be paid in a savings, checking, or money market account.
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There are deposit insurance schemes for cases where a bank goes bankrupt. However, none of these schemes has enough funds for the case of even a medium-sized bank failing. It's possible that there will be legislation for other banks that didn't go bankrupt to pay the missing insurance funds, but that's not guaranteed. Where I live, there is a limit for deposit insurance, and the limit is per-(depositer,bank). So you can deposit the limited amount to let's say 5 banks each, and you have increased the total limit five-fold. Check the local laws where you live, and consider also that enough funds to pay the insured amount don't exists so the entire system is on very shaky ground.

For having a huge amount of money as cash, there are three feasible options:

  1. Put all of it into a money market fund of the local currency. Since this is not a deposit, it's not guaranteed by deposit insurance schemes. However, most likely cases for preventing a big bank crisis will save all banks except maybe one that is in huge troubles, so big troubles it isn't worth saving. A true money market fund has diversified its money market instruments, so if one bank fails it will lose maybe 10% of its value (and that happens only in a really really big crisis). Also a true money market fund has short maturity on all its instruments (let's say average maturity of 3 months), so some cases of banks going bankrupt happen in the following way: (1) bank goes into trouble, (2) bank goes bankrupt, and if the difference between (1) and (2) is more than 3 months, the money market fund would have to do a decision to reinvest into instruments of a troubled bank which it obviously won't do. Due to short duration of the instruments, its value doesn't fluctuate with interest rates. Never ever use a "short interest" fund that isn't true money market fund: they often invest in variable-rate instruments (short duration, long maturity), commercial papers, etc. to have maybe 0.1% more annual yield in good times, but reduce in value 10-30% in bad times easily.
  2. Fund investing in short-term government bonds in the local currency. The shoter the term, the less the value of the fund varies with fluctuating interest rates. A normal government bond fund can easily decrease 10% even 15% in value during times where interest rates increase. Usually governments don't go bankrupt.
  3. Multiple accounts in different banks. The idea is to diversify, so if one bank goes bankrupt, you still have the other accounts. Also in some countries this increases the maximum limit for the deposit insurance, so if you believe in the usefulness and credibility of the deposit insurance scheme, this can be very useful.

If you choose bank accounts, always use accounts not connected to a debit card. If you have a debit card on one account on one bank, open a different account on the same bank and use that for part of the large sum of money (with rest being in other banks of course). Also carefully guard your online banking credentials.

Credit card theft isn't usually a consideration since if you didn't make a payment, you can usually dispute it without having to pay it. Also the credit limit usually is very low and applies for the whole month, unlike debit card limits which usually are per-day and can be quite large indeed.

If you don't believe in deposit insurance, or if your amount deposited is orders of magnitude above the insurance amount, my suggestion would be either fund (1) or fund (2).

If you aren't scared by daily fluctuations of value and the threat of your investment temporarily (for a period of 5 years let's say) decreasing in value at most 15%, then you can consider a normal government bond fund too.

Funds aren't something to be concerned about. If the fund maintainer goes bankrupt, they money is still there, and either a new maintainer takes over the fund, or the money will be delivered back to investors. In countries having a well-regulated financial sector, funds are usually as safe as the investments the fund makes are. About the only problem with funds is that some have high fees. Check the fees before investing.

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