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Account activity is any activity on a financial account that results in a debit or a credit in the accounting sense. This can include everything from writing a check, which would result in a debit, to a direct transfer of funds into an account, creating a credit. Banks typically provide statements of accounting activity over a set accounting period, such as a month, and it is highly advisable to review account statements for any signs of unusual or unexpected activity that does not mesh with the account holder's personal records.
Sources of debits or removals from accounts can include transfers out of the account, automatic debits such as those provided with some bill-paying programs, withdrawals of cash, bank card activity, and checks. Credits can come from deposits, interest earnings, and transfers into the account. On a bank statement, each line on the section covering account activity will be coded to indicate whether it is a debt or a credit and the new total after the activity will also be reported.
In addition to reviewing account activity in a regular statement, people can also usually look up their account activity in real time online or over the phone. Banks offer this service to allow people to monitor their accounts more closely. Some banks also provide alerts for certain types of activity, such as unusually large deposits and withdrawals. These alerts can be used to warn people when activity that might be fraudulent is occurring so that they can report it promptly.
Sometimes strange entries appear in account activity. Certain types of merchants such as gas stations will preauthorize transactions with bank cards with a large sum of money that is intended to ensure that the customer has enough money for the transaction. While preauthorizations usually disappear from the account activity within minutes, sometimes they linger for hours or days and can throw off account balances. Likewise, banks will usually test an account being used for automatic transfers with a small transfer into the account that will appear for several days before vanishing again.
If people notice something in their account activity that does not look correct, it is advisable to check personal records carefully to confirm that it wasn't the result of a transaction that wasn't recorded. It can be helpful to check for old transactions; someone might think that a transaction has already cleared when it has not. If nothing in the records provides information about the transaction, the bank can be contacted to get more information and to contest the transaction, if necessary. People should be aware that erroneous credits to their accounts should be reported, as well as mistaken debits, as people will be held liable for these funds if they spend them.
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