The question, ‘can someone withdraw money with my account number and routing number’ has been going round in various ‘Ask Me’ platforms such as Quora and Reddit. Most people are anxious about whether their money is safe in their bank accounts if someone gets to know both the routing and account numbers. The truth of the matter is that one should worry if the account details are exposed to untrustworthy people.
A thief can impersonate you in a bank if they have the routing and account number with them and proceed to withdraw your hard-earned money. You only realize that someone took away your money when you check your balance and realize that a certain amount or all your money is missing. You might be wondering how, but some people have wits to rob using the two types of information.
You realize that banks usually require your identification documents when you want to withdraw from your account. However, some bank officers are unethical and can collude with outside forces to steal from you. Someone working in a bank can leak your signature to a fraudster so that the two can share the cash later. It means that you should not share your account details with anyone other than trustworthy employers and customers.
What are the routing and account numbers?
A routing number is a nine-digit figure that helps to identify where you opened your bank account. A single bank with various branches in different states has specific routing numbers for each state. If, for example, if you open a bank account with the Bank of America in New York, you will have a different routing number from someone in California. The routing number also helps to distinguish a bank from other banks.
The nine digits have particular meanings. The first two digits tell us the type of financial institution you opened your account, the third and fourth digits indicate the Federal Reserve Bank district branch, while the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th digits tell us the name of the financial institution where you have an account.
The last digit is a checking digit, as they refer to it. Checks affiliated to your bank account also have routing numbers printed on the left bottom part of your check. If you log into your bank or mobile wallet’s online account, you can locate the routing number.
On the other hand, an account number is a special arrangement with your bank that distinguishes you from other account holders. When you deposit money, the records go to your account number. An account number may contain a set of numbers or a mixture of numbers, letters, and characters.
When you look at your checks, you can see your account number, the second set of numbers after the routing number. Your monthly statements usually have routing numbers. An account number has ten digits in most cases. You can send money with a checking account number instantly to a recipient of the same bank like yours.
Can someone use the routing number to steal money from my account?
The routing number alone is not enough for someone to use to steal from you. As I have indicated above, someone with both the routing number and account number can steal from your bank account. It means that the two types of information should go together.
Can someone use my debit card to steal my money?
Thousands of people across the world have lost money through debit cards. If someone has your PIN, they can withdraw cash from an ATM. ATMs do not request signatures or any other kind of authentication other than your PIN.
Therefore, you should keep your PIN a secret, or else if anyone can steal the card and withdraw your funds. If you suspect that someone has known your ATM card PIN, change it immediately. Another way people can steal money from your account is by paying for goods and services online.
You do not need to input your PIN, but the card number and the security code are usually printed on the card. After that, money is drawn from your account to the merchant or service provider’s account. Just like that, your money is lost. That is why you should report to your card issuer immediately if you lose your card to prevent such fraud.
Note that this kind of crime can happen to any payment card and not only to a debit card. Therefore, your credit card, prepaid card, or gift card can lose money in the above manner.
Which measures do financial institutions put into preventing loss of money?
Most financial institutions have put measures to curb fraud. Since thieves are developing new technologies to steal from people’s bank accounts every day, banks constantly update online software to outwit the current threats. The following are ways financial institutions are ensuring the safety of funds.
i) Data encryption
The most elaborate technology that financial institutions are applying for online banking is data encryption. It helps to prevent hackers from getting your account details when you are transacting online. End-to-end data encryption ensures that you only communicate with servers and no third party can intercept.
ii) Two-way authentication
Nowadays, banks are advising account holders to add a mobile number to their accounts. When you log into your account, your bank sends you an OTP (One Time Pin) that you must input to access your online account. It, therefore, makes it difficult for someone else to access your account since they will not have the code to access your account. You can only use an OTP once.
iii) Biometric identification
When using your online account, you can enable login using biometric information such as fingerprint or facial recognition. Since no one else has similar biometric information like yours, it becomes difficult for a fraudster to access your account.
iv) Use of apps
Most hacking happens when people use browsers to access their bank accounts. It is because a lot of trails are left in browsers, and hackers can use the trails to get your details. Apps are not easily accessible to hackers.
v) Generation of temporary card numbers for online payments
Since in most cases, people lose money when they use their cards to pay for goods and services online, some banks help you generate quick card numbers affiliated with your main account, not to use the actual card number. Since it is a one-time card number, thieves cannot benefit from it in any way.
How do I prevent theft from my bank account?
For you to ensure that your money is safe there are various mechanisms you should apply to your account to secure your money. These include the following.
1) Avoid sharing your account and routing numbers to untrustworthy parties
As I indicated earlier, someone can steal money from your account by impersonating you if they have your account and routing numbers. Therefore, do not share the details with anybody you come across since you might be risking a lot. Your employer or trusted customers can have the details to make direct deposits to your account.
2) Never share your PIN
When it comes to money issues, there is nothing like trust. Even your spouse should not know your ATM card PIN. Someone may withdraw cash using your PIN at an ATM point. Furthermore, they may send money to their cards if they access your card account online since it is possible to transfer money from one card to another online. Change your PIN if you suspect that someone has mastered it.
3) Never use public WiFi to operate your account online
Public WiFis are dangerous platforms where hackers masquerade, waiting to catch prey. You might be happy that you got free WiFi only to realize that someone used it as bait to capture your bank account details. If anything, you should avoid using public WiFis at all costs. You should use internet connections from your telephone service providers rather than rely on free public WiFi.
4) Download apps from reliable sources only
Some apps are spies that collect personal information and forward it to fraudsters. Never download apps from untrusted sources. Google Play Store, App Store, and Windows Store are the most legitimate sites you can get your crucial apps.
5) Enable alerts and notifications
You can enable alerts and notifications for your account so that if something happens in your account, you can know immediately and take the necessary measures. Most financial institutions do not charge for notifications and alerts, and thus you do not have any reason not to activate them.
Alerts may not help stop fraud but can help you prevent further transactions if you immediately take the necessary steps.
6) Avoid buying goods and services online
Since most fraudsters get information about your bank account online when you pay for goods and services, you can avoid transacting online. Hackers can phish your card or account information to get your PIN, card number, and security cord which are enough details to empty your bank account. If you must buy anything online, use only trusted websites and internet connections.
Sites like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay have secure platforms that you can use to pay online.
What should you do if you lose funds from your bank account?
The first thing is to call your bank’s customer care and report the incident. They can act by temporarily freezing your bank account so that no further withdrawals until matters are settled. After that, they can assist in adjusting your account information, such as changing the online account PIN and adding more stringent protective measures such as two-way authentication.
If you lose money from a misplaced ATM card, you can lock it to prevent further loss of money, and then apply for a new card. If you delay notifying your bank about your card’s loss, you will be liable for all the illegal transactions on your account. You should inform your bank about any illegal transactions within two days.
How do I get stolen money back into my account?
If you lose money in fraudulent ways, you may recover it. Bank accounts and credit unions have some kind of insurance that ensures that if something happens with your money and it is not your fault, you can receive compensation. You can have up to $250,000 insured in a bank or a credit union.
i. If you lose your card
If you misplace a credit or debit card and you lose money via fraudulent transactions, then your bank is liable for the loss, and you should get your money back as they investigate the issue. To benefit from the above, you must report the loss within two days. If not, then you can lose your money.
Note that your bank may extend your notice period if you have traveled far away or have been hospitalized.
ii. Statements showing you used money and never did
Sometimes you may receive monthly statements showing that you spent a certain amount of money, yet you never did so. You should report such incidences to your bank within 60 days for your bank or credit union to investigate what happened. The financial institution should check on the matter within 10-20 days and give you a report.
If for any reason, the bank or credit union is not able to give feedback on what happened within the specified period, then they should credit your account with the disputed amount less with at most $50 as they continue investigating. If the bank or credit union finds out that the money you claimed lost was an authorized transaction from you, then they will give you a written notice before they take back the amount of money they had credited to your account.
If a fraudster moved money from your account to their account, then your bank can follow up and the fraudster’s account frozen for investigations. In collaboration with the receiving bank, your bank or credit union can bring the money back to your bank account.
Someone can use your routing and account numbers to withdraw money from your account by impersonating you. If you report unlawful transactions to your bank or any other financial institution on time, you can avoid losing your money.
You should never share your personal bank information with anyone since you do not know who can steal from you and who cannot. If you can avoid online payments, the better since hackers use these platforms to access vital information.