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Audit your bank tops ITIMEsI New Years Resolutions
NEW YORK (1/3/12)--Bank Transfer Day made a lot of year-end lists for 2011 and has helped insert credit unions into just about any financial conversation. What happened preceding Nov. 5 is also transferring to some New Year's Resolutions for 2012. Case in point: "Audit your bank" is the No. 1 New Year's Resolution touted by TIME's Moneyland column.

The Dec. 30 column, entitled "Banking New Year's Resolutions," notes that 2011 was a tumultuous one for banking, with nods to Americans' anger against the financial industry and widespread outrage against fees that culminated in Bank Transfer Day. 

"But whether your checking account is at a big national bank, small community bank, online bank or credit union, 2012 is a chance to begin afresh," wrote Martha C. White. For better banking, she advised five tips.

The first one:  Audit your bank. "The silver lining of the debit fee debacle is that it made many of us more aware of the fees our banks charge us and of what we're getting in return. Start the new year by tallying up the fees you're being charged for things like monthly account maintenance, overdraft protection transfers and out-of-network ATM use," she advised, noting that "If the math doesn't add up, consider another institution."

Credit unions also figured in tip No. 3: Set up text alerts.  Many credit unions and banks can send an automated text message when the consumer's balance drops below a certain amount or if a transaction seems too high and could be a fraudulent transaction.

Her other tips included: Using cash where possible, finding a better and safer personal identification number (PIN) to thwart criminals, and building an emergency fund or saving for a big purchase by making saving automatic.

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