You are responsible for all financial products in your name, including, of course, any bank accounts. For this reason, you must track and handle them carefully.. However, it is common to lose track of one or another account, and forget about it completely. If you are wondering “how do I know how many bank accounts I have?”, continue reading.
Forgetting your accounts can happen for various reasons. For example, your parents opened one in your name when you were a child, but never used it. Or you had one when you were in college, but you wanted to close it, you couldn’t, and eventually you forgot the whole thing.
But there are also other less innocent reasons why there may be a bank account in your name; for example, if you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft. In conclusion, it is important to know if you have bank accounts in your name, and in this article we are going to explain how to do it.
- 1 First option: Start by reviewing your checking account report
- 2 What is a checking account report?
- 3 How to request copies of checking account reports
- 4 Second option: Look for any inactive account
- 5 How do I find an inactive bank account?
- 6 Where exactly does the money go from a dormant bank account?
- 7 Things you need to do to prevent your bank accounts from going dormant
- 8 Beware of fees
- 9 Third option: Talk to your parents or relatives
- 10 tip
First option: Start by reviewing your checking account report
However, in this case we are talking about a credit account, such as cards or loans. So what if a thief opens a bank account in your name, perhaps with plans to bounce checks or overdraw it? Well, chances are it won’t show up on your credit reports. However, will appear on your checking account reports. And if you don’t know how to check those reports, you’ll have no way of knowing the fraudulent bank account exists until long after the damage is done.
What is a checking account report?
There are multiple types of consumer reports. Credit reports that reflect your credit and loan payment history are just one type. Checking account reports, which reflect your banking and checking history, are another type of consumer report.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Explain:
“Some banks and credit unions use checking account reports to help them decide whether to offer a particular banking product to consumers. These reports are compiled by specialized companies and agencies using the information provided by other institutions, such as banks and credit unionsabout the person involved.
In this order of ideas, checking account reports contain negative information, such as an account closing due to overdrafts or unpaid charges, he says CFPB.
For this reason, not all consumers have checking account reports. According to the CFPB, If no bank or credit union has ever reported negative activity associated with your banking, chances are you don’t have a checking account report..
How to request copies of checking account reports
Credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion collect the information that goes on your credit reports, and under federal law, every 12 months these reporting companies must provide you with a free copy of your report.
Similarly, checking account reporting agencies must give you a free copy of your reports every 12 months if you ask. According to the CFPB, those agencies are:
- Certegy Check Services
- Early Warning Services
- Global Payments Check Services
- TeleCheck Services
Some of these companies allow you to request your report online, so just follow the link on the CFPB listing. In other cases, you must apply by phone or by mail.
Second option: Look for any inactive account
Whatever the reason an account goes dormant, no one wants to see their money disappear. And while it still technically belongs to the client, getting it back is a hassle, since when a bank account is marked as inactive, all capital deposited in it is sent to the state. And what is worse: the recovery process can take up to years.
How do I find an inactive bank account?
The first thing you should do if you suspect you have an inactive account is to contact the bank or credit union where you think it might be. The financial institution should be able to verify if you have an account there as well as its status.
Where exactly does the money go from a dormant bank account?
Here is a typical outline of what happens with an inactive bank account.
1. The account remains inactive for a certain period of time
Generally, an account is marked as inactive if the owner spends 3-5 years without using it. But nevertheless, the exact time that must elapse depends on the state in which the bank account was opened.
2. The bank tries to contact the holder
Before turning the account over to the state, the bank must try to notify the owner. If the client does not respond within a certain time, the balance of the account is transferred to the corresponding institution.
3. The bank delivers the account to the state
In a process called “escheating”, the banks are required to hand over the funds from the dormant account to the state treasury. Once this happens, the funds remain as unclaimed property.
To claim your money, you’ll need to contact your state for instructions on how to get it back. Generally, you will need to fill out and submit a claim form along with your personal identification.
If you have unclaimed property held by the state, you can begin the recovery process by visiting www.unclaimed.org.
Things you need to do to prevent your bank accounts from going dormant
1. Check your bank accounts regularly
By doing this, you can identify which accounts are about to become officially inactive. And if you want to save yourself the whole process of claiming the money, transfer the amounts to another account that you use more frequently.
2. Create account activity with automatic transfers and scheduled payments
With automated transactions, keeping your account active shouldn’t be a problem.
Also, with this option you can set up automatic transfers of a small amount to your savings account or make monthly bill payments.
3. Keep your address and contact information up to date
If you keep your address up to date, it is less likely that you will not receive the final notification that your account is going to be turned over to the state.
Beware of fees
Depending on the account and the bank, your account may be hit with an inactivity fee. This fee is charged after a specified period during which the account is not used, typically 6-12 months. Now, the fee is calculated based on each month that the account remains inactive until such time as the bank determines that it is time to turn it over to the state.
What are the dormant bank account fees charged by America’s largest banks?
|Bank||Inactive account fee|
|Bank of America||None|
|U.S. Bank||$5 per month (after four consecutive months of inactivity)|
|Capital one||None (account is turned over to the state after 24 months of inactivity)|
|SunTrust||$15 per month (after 12 months of inactivity) (only applies to Florida bank accounts)|
|PNC Bank||$20 at the time the account is turned over to the state (only applies to Philadelphia accounts)|
|Santander||$50 at the time the account is turned over to the state (after 12 months of inactivity)|
|Fifth Third Bank||$5 per month (after 395 calendar days of inactivity) (only applies to accounts with balances less than $100)|
|Citizen’s Bank||$10 per month (after 12 months of inactivity); $5 per month thereafter (12 months for checking or 24 months for savings; $50 escrow fee (after 24 months)|
|BBVA Compass||$5 per month (after 12 months of inactivity)|
|BMO Harris||None (at the time the account is turned over to the state after 36 months of inactivity)|
Third option: Talk to your parents or relatives
Ask them if they or someone they know opened a savings account for you when you were a child. This might trigger some flashbacks and help you track down any existing inactive accounts.
If you find bank accounts you haven’t opened that show up on your credit report and/or checking account, contact the bank immediately and let them know you don’t recognize it.