Five Tips to Avoid an Overdraft Fee

With the growth in electronic banking methods such as debit card transactions, ATM withdrawals, and Online Bill Pay, it is easier than ever to forget to record a transaction and find your account overdrawn. An overdraft occurs when you do not have sufficient available funds to cover transactions you have initiated.

1. Keep track of how much money you have in your checking account by keeping your account register up-to-date. Record all checks when you write them and other transactions when you make them. Pay special attention to your electronic transactions. Record your ATM withdrawals and fees, debit card purchases, and online payments. Also, don’t forget about automatic bill payments you may have set up for utilities, insurance, or loan payments.

2. Keep an eye on your account balance. With Community Bank’s Lake Street Online, you can view transactions and monitor account activity online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When reviewing your account activity, remember that some checks and payments may not have cleared or posted to your account yet. You can also find out which transactions have cleared and check your balance by calling bank-by-phone at 708.660.1001.

3. Sign up for online alerts. Community Bank’s Lake Street Online offers email alerts that automatically notify you if your account balance goes below a certain amount that you specify. You can then transfer funds online from another account.

4. Sign up for direct deposit. Many of the checks that now come to you in paper form - including your payroll and Social Security checks - can easily be directly deposited into your account. That means you won't have to wait in line to make the deposit yourself, and your funds are immediately available.

5. Consider applying for an overdraft line of credit. Available to qualified applicants, a line of credit covers you if you write a check or make a payment or withdrawal more than your available balance. Keep in mind, though, there may be a fee for this service and, that since it is a loan, you will pay finance charges if your overdraft line of credit is used.

If your account is overdrawn, be sure to deposit money in your account as soon as possible to cover the overdraft plus any fees that may be assessed. By doing so, you'll avoid additional overdrafts and fees.