Here’s a free idea for the taking: why doesn’t a bank (cough HSBC cough) offer the option to have text message alerts sent to a registered phone number any time a withdrawal is made from a specific account via ATM? “$120 was withdrawn at 2:51pm EST in Palo Verde, CA. Reference #293005” See how easy that was? Such exception-based reporting would drastically cut down on fraud (we’re guessing) by enlisting the help of customers to report unauthorized transactions immediately.


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  1. Kloud says:

    You actually want banks to come up with ideas that are new and innovative? Ha.

  2. forgottenpassword says:

    because it will cost them money to do so. Of course… IF they did do this… they’d probably create a fee for the service that charges twice what their costs were.

  3. StevieD says:


    Costs money?

    And then the sonofabytch will have my cell phone number to send me valuable service related messages (aka Ads).

    Bad idea. Bad idea.

  4. BrianH says:

    Yeah they’d sell it as a service to the customer ($5/month for “withdrawal notification”) even though it protects them more than the customer.

    Maybe I’m just projecting my hate & distrust of Bank of America onto every banking entity on the planet….

  5. Buran says:

    Cause they’d rather charge you overdraft fees.

  6. scoosdad says:

    Close, but not exactly the same– BofA offers a similar service but via email. Everytime I go down to the ATM for a withdrawal I have an email in my inbox when I get back home telling me someone took x dollars out of my account via ATM. You can set the threshold for the notification to whatever you feel comfortable with. Ditto for debit card transactions. No fee to me.

  7. Honus says:

    That’s actually pretty clever. I like it.

  8. Elijah-M says:

    The ATM idea is one thing, but Bank of America does already offer a text message security feature that I like quite a bit: for certain online transactions, they send me a text message with a code, and I then have to type the code into the web form in order to complete the transaction.

    I’m not so sure about the ATM idea, because I think most people would just tune it out after the first few times; especially after the bank inevitably began using the feature as an excuse to serve ads. Also, since wireless networks are anything but secure, something feels odd about someone being able to know how much I’m withdrawing from my account, and – since the message is disclosing the location of said withdrawal – where I am at any given moment.

  9. SuperJdynamite says:

    My Chase credit card allows me to send an alert whenever a transaction exceeding a specified amount is made. You could set that to $1 and send it to your phone if you wanted the service you describe.

  10. B says:

    Technically it’s not exception-based reporting unless it only sends alert when the withdrawal is made for an odd ATM. IE, one out of the general area where the customer lives. That might not be a bad idea, actually.

  11. benh57 says:

    E-mail notifications are the same as text messaging, since you can easily forward any email using rules to your text messaging email (all carriers have free email->txt gateways).

  12. rg says:

    Most banks are trying to figure out how to offer less services for more money. I don’t think they’re going to go for something like this.

  13. yourbffjill says:

    I set up my Chase credit card account to send me an e-mail whenever I have a transaction over a certain amount or whenever my balance reaches a certain amount. They also have an option for phone alerts as well. I hate to break up the “banks are evil” party but I do feel like more companies are moving towards these solutions. Banks want to deal with fraud as much as we do.

    Additionally I often use <cellnumber>@<providerdomain>.com to let me send text messages to my phone from my e-mail account, so as long as you have e-mail alerts you can get them as texts as well.

  14. ThomasD3 says: already offers this for transactions higher than a limit you set.

    If banks offer it, they’ll manage to mangle it, offer poor service and charge for it. It would be better if banks were just providing deposit/withdrawal and no other ‘features’, that would be less opportunities to rip people off.

  15. cfs says:

    Bank of America actually has this feature on their online site. I’ve set it up to let me know when checks are cleared and when deposits are made. It doesn’t cost me anything (at least directly). Came with the free checking I signed up for.

  16. henwy says:

    Just a handful of comments in and you can stick a fork in that idea already. Not as easy as it seems, eh?

  17. Landru says:

    I have a reimbursement account at work with a visa check card, and I get an email every single time I use it. I have wondered why they don’t do this will all cards, but I figured that if every credit card generated an email, the internet would fill up.

  18. Ailu says:

    Yep, BofA gives me these alerts too. Guess you guys who want it will just have to cross over to the dark side. Hehehe haha

  19. sam1am says:

    My bank (USAA) sends me text alerts. I’m not sure if they can be configured to notify you of ATM transactions though. I don’ t know why you’d want that anyway as people are far more likely to use your ATM/Debit card as a credit card since they probably don’t know your pin.

    And receiving a text message for everything you buy would be uber annoying.

  20. squikysquiken says:

    Chase does have alerts for a lot of stuff, some of them near instant, others daily. Also, most ATM transaction show the ATM address (at least partially), however that’s not instant. Here’s the list:

    Security Alerts
    A bill payment exceeds ($ USD) .
    A debit card transaction exceeds ($ USD) .
    A wire transfer exceeds ($ USD) .
    An ATM withdrawal exceeds ($ USD) .
    An external transfer exceeds ($ USD) .
    An overnight check exceeds ($ USD) .
    Incoming wire transfer exceeds ($ USD) .
    My mailing address has changed.

    Daily Alerts
    A direct deposit greater than ($ USD) has posted to this account.
    A payee has been added to my online bill payment profile.
    An ATM deposit has posted to this account.
    An overdraft protection advance was made to this account.
    Any scheduled online repeating payment series has ended.
    Check (#number) has posted.
    Daily account summary for this account, including transaction details, total deposits, withdrawals and end of day balance.
    Funds previously deposited to your account have been returned.
    It is three bank business days prior to the payment date of an upcoming scheduled bill payment.
    My account is overdrawn.
    My balance is above ($ USD) for this account.
    My balance is below ($ USD) for this account.
    There is ATM card activity on this account of more than ($ USD) .
    Your check or payment may not be completed because there’s not enough money in your account.

  21. Tank says:

    US Bank offers a service similar to Chase. I have my account set to alert me whenever a transaction under $5000 takes place, except it send the message to my email account. If you have them send to it comes to you the same as a text message.

  22. mathew says:

    Similarly, in a reasonable world, the credit reporting agencies would give me a way to monitor changes to my credit report for free, and by doing so I would (over time) increase the accuracy and value of their data.

    But in fact, they prefer to have inaccurate data, and then try to charge me a fee for monitoring for problems and correcting them.

  23. Fry says:

    Chris, I’d patent that idea. That is an amazingly great idea! I’d set that up on my cell (since I always have it with me) to keep a closer eye on my bank account if it was available.

  24. Chris Walters says:

    After reading some of your comments, I went back and checked my Citibank account. They too offer alerts–up to two email accounts and one phone. You can get balance alerts and track checks clearing and some other things, but no mention of ATM transactions.

    I set up some daily balance and low balance alerts. Thanks.

  25. Hepcephus says:

    WaMu offers this service. I have set my checking and savings accounts to text message me whenever there is a withdrawl from either account. Although I like your idea of having the ATM location and transaction number included in the information.

  26. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    My Wired Plastic prepaid Visa does this. I love it.

  27. Grimmtooth says:

    NetSpend has done this for years on their prepaid Visa and MC cards – alerts to both phone (SMS) and email. We use these for all our online spending, and recently it paid off when my wife started getting alerts about stuff she never bought. BOOM, card cancelled with the minimum possible loss of money. (Now, if we could only get that refunded by the parties responsible … yeah, I’m looking at YOU PayPal…)

    I realize NetSpend is probably not one of Consumerists’ favorite companies, but there you have it. They have it, it works great, have a nice day.

  28. pigeonpenelope says:

    my bank, Whatcom Educational Credit Union does that… for credits and deposits. greatest bank for many reasons. unfortunately they’re only local.

  29. freedom69 says:

    well the idea of text message is great it can also go bad. For example you loose your phone,change your number and forget to update or someone in a not so good relationship is reading your text and minding your business. Now some one has your personal info and customers have another reason to complain. It seems like more hassle then its worth.

  30. j3s says:

    Since almost all mobile carriers allow for SMS/Text messages to be sent via e-mail nowadays, what you are suggesting can be easily achieved by creating a standard e-mail alert (almost all banks offer these nowadays), and then having the messages delivered to your mobile device, either directly or as a forward. As an example:


    Create “ATM withdrawal over $1” alert via your bank’s website and set your alert e-mail address to (format will vary depending on your carrier, is an example of how it works for ATT/Cingular).


    Create the alert, have it delivered to the e-mail address of your choice, and then create a forwarding rule for the alerts that will pass them onto

    [Slightly modified repost of a recent comment I left on a similar story @ LifeHacker]