Protecting your money should be a top priority for every adult. Whether you need a place to keep your paycheck or are investing, it’s essential to make sure the institutions you’re trusting with your money are legitimate.

As more financial services switch to online platforms, it can be difficult to know if your money is safe and in the hands of trusted professionals. Below, you’ll find tips to help ensure your money stays protected. From vetting small, local banks to determining if online options are trustworthy, you’ll be able to save safely with this guide.

Member FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, insures deposits at banking institutions around the country. Banking with an institution that’s a member of the FDIC is the definitive way to make sure your money is protected. The FDIC covers each depositor up to $250,000, and you shouldn’t trust your money with any institution that is not a member.

There are many ways to make sure your bank is a member of the FDIC. Most institutions will display the logo and have information about their membership posted in the building. You can also ask employees or check out the FDIC’s bank finder tool.

Although FDIC membership is the most important factor, there are other red flags to warn you about a bank’s legitimacy.

Read reviews

While it’s true you can’t trust everything you read on the internet, you should be able to gather good information from reading reviews, like a bank’s customer service and reliability — just be sure to read with a grain of salt. You can also find valuable information about customer complaints by researching the Better Business Bureau archives. If a negative pattern emerges, you may want to bank elsewhere.

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Examine websites

As banking institutions continue to invest heavily in mobile platforms, you’ll find separation between the contenders and pretenders by looking at their websites. Most scam online banks will have unsecured Web pages with poor design and limited functions.

While there are exceptions, typically, the better the website, the more trustworthy an institution is. Some small-town credit unions and banks have extremely limited websites, so make sure they’re FDIC-insured before taking your business there.

Visit a branch

One of the simplest ways to put your mind at ease is to visit a branch in person. Bad actors won’t last long with a physical location and typically like to keep their scams strictly online. If you have any doubt about a bank, take a visit in person, talk to employees, and make sure you’re comfortable with the operation before giving them your business.

Pay attention

Staying current on news can also help keep you protected. If you hear rumblings that another company might purchase your local bank, it could be a sign that their financials aren’t in the best shape. Increased fees, fewer staff, and closing branches are also common signs of trouble. Although you’ll be protected by FDIC insurance, stay alert to changes at your bank to get your money out of a potentially bad situation.

Luckily, consumer protections exist in the financial world to help you avoid falling victim to scams. While it’s more of a concern in investment circles, it’s crucial to perform thorough research to avoid predatory banking. Follow these tips to bank safely and enjoy peace of mind knowing your money is safe at all times.

Finances FYI is presented by 1st Security Bank.

At 1st Security Bank of Washington, we take a customized and personal approach to your financial well-being. We live in the communities we serve, so our branches offer tailored solutions to their communities. We believe relationships make the difference, and that sets 1st Security Bank apart.