Checks and Balances

What you should and shouldn’t do with your monthly statement.

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What you should and shouldn’t do with your monthly statement.
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Bank statements are a bit like your period. They come every month and usually, you wonder, “What’s the point?” But when – touch wood – something goes amiss, you’re scrambling to remember when you got your last one, worrying about the kinds of “activities” you’ve been up to since then, and, most of all, wishing desperately for things to go back to normal. As with all things, the key is to be prepared. With the help of our financial expert, we give you the essential things to look out for.

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Breaking the Code

Occasionally, mysterious three-letter acronyms pop up on your statement or passbook. What are they? What do they mean? Don’t fret. These are codes that the bank uses to identify the types of deposits and withdrawals that have been made. “Different banks use different acronyms on your transaction statement,” says Vincent. “The code used by HSBC for cash machine withdrawals is ‘ATM’. However, the code used by DBS for cash machine withdrawals is ‘AWL’. The best way to check for the codes is to google the meaning of the transaction codes for each bank.”

The Paper Trail

If you want to do a really thorough job of checking through your accounts, you might want to cross-check your bank statement with other documents (like bills) as well. “If you have variable charges in your statement, you might want to cross-reference with the relevant billing organisation. For example, you might get charges on your phone bill for services that were accidentally triggered.” Take note of these changes and make sure to cancel these services if you don’t want to re-incur the charges.

To Trash, or Not to Trash?

It is not recommended to put your personal bank statement in the recycle bin once you’re done checking it. According to Vincent, “Banks charge a fee for reprinting your statements. Also, you may need your statement to dispute any cases of identity theft, unauthorised transactions, or disputes with online merchants.” And if you’re managing a business account, it’s even more imperative to hold on to your statements. “If you are using your bank account for business expenses, the compulsory record keeping would be five years, according to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore,” says Vincent.

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