What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account & Routing Number? | SoFi (2024)

By Sheryl Nance-Nash ·February 27, 2024 · 9 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey.Read moreWe develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide.We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right.Read less

What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account & Routing Number? | SoFi (1)

Table of Contents

  • What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account Number Alone?
  • What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account and Routing Number?
  • What to Do When Someone Has Your Bank Numbers
  • Tips on Avoiding Bank Fraud
  • FAQ

If someone has access to both your bank account and routing number, they could make fraudulent ACH transfers and payments out of your account. In other words, you could wind up being scammed.

That’s why it’s so important to understand this aspect of your personal finances and protect your money. Read on to learn what happens if someone has your bank account number and routing number, what the risks are, and how to protect yourself.

Key Points

• If someone has your bank account and routing number, they can make fraudulent ACH transfers and payments from your account.

• Your bank account number alone is not enough for someone to withdraw money from your account.

• Scammers can use your bank account and routing number to commit ACH fraud, make online purchases, deposit money for illegal activities, and create fraudulent checks.

• If someone has your bank numbers and is using them fraudulently, you should contact your bank, report the fraud to credit reporting bureaus and the police, and monitor your account closely.

• To protect yourself, be cautious with sharing your banking information, use strong passwords for online banking, and limit the use of paper checks.

What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account Number Alone?

Many of us wonder, “What can someone do with my bank account number?” The good news is, if someone has only your bank account number, that won’t give them enough intel to do any damage. It’s not the same as a scammer obtaining your credit card digits. No one will be able to withdraw money from your personal bank account if all they have is your account number.

For those who may not know the difference between a bank account vs. a routing number, here’s the scoop:

• Your bank account number is the unique string of digits that identifies your particular account at a financial institution. Even if you have, say, multiple accounts at a bank, each will have its own distinct account number.

• Your routing number is the series of numerals that identifies your financial institution, or where the account is held.

Just because your bank account number alone doesn’t make you vulnerable doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect it. You should. If a scammer had your account number and other info — perhaps your driver’s license number and/or your home address — they might be able to make illegal purchases online. So it pays to be vigilant.

Routinely monitoring your account activity — say, once a week — is a smart move that allows you to quickly detect if anything is awry.

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What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account and Routing Number?

The short answer: Real damage. The combination of a bank account and routing number is a dangerous combo that scammers want. And those two numbers are fairly accessible. Think about how often these numbers get circulated: every time a check is written, cashed, signed over to someone else.

Here’s what can happen if they fall into the wrong hands.

ACH Fraud

With both those precious numbers, crooks could commit fraudulent automated clearing house (or ACH) transfers and payments. You’re probably used to seeing those ACH letters on your banking details when you set up automatic monthly payments and the like. When a scammer has your bank account and routing numbers, they could set up bill payments for services you’re not using or transfer money out of your bank account.

It’s tough to protect these details because your account number and routing number are printed right at the bottom of your checks. But do your best. Some pointers:

• Don’t leave your checkbook lying around.

• If you are mailing a check, wrap it in a sheet of blank paper so the numbers don’t show as it’s in transit.

• Pay attention to bank statements. Review them often to see if there are any fishy transactions happening.

• Protect yourself when online banking by using strong passwords. That password is a primary defense. If a thief has your bank and routing numbers and somehow manages to get access to your login name and password, big trouble may be on the horizon.

• Don’t make your password something obvious like your name, pass1234, or numbers that may be circulating in cyberspace, like your birthday which can be seen on Facebook.

Online Shopping

Know that all online retailers aren’t equal in terms of security measures. Some will allow people to make a purchase with bank account information alone, while others will also ask for a driver’s license or other state identification to add an additional layer of protection.

So what can a scammer do with your bank account number and routing number? They can find sites that let them shop with only that information. and could run up a tab.

Depositing Money

While it might seem like a dream come true if a mysterious sum of money appeared in your bank account, you should be more alarmed than overjoyed. Somebody who has your account and routing number may be using your digits to facilitate their illegal shenanigans (such as the kind of bank fraud known as money laundering). Report unusual deposits immediately.

Create Fraudulent Checks

Unfortunately, scammers can create fake checks using your checking numbers, and then those fake checks to pay for purchases (not every payee will verify a check) — or simply cashing them. Know, too, that with technology scammers could digitally scan the check and deposit the amount into their bank account.

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What to Do When Someone Has Your Bank Numbers

As careful as you try to be, stuff happens. What if someone has your bank account number and routing number? What if you see signs that they are using it for fraudulent transactions? Knowing how to report identity theft can help mitigate a bad situation. Have a strategy in place, just in case. Here’s some advice.

Contact Relevant Agencies

If you have the misfortune of being victimized, here’s what to do:

• Contact your bank the minute you realize it. You need to notify your bank within 60 days of your statement to avoid paying for unauthorized ACH transactions. The bank’s fraud department will work to help you get unauthorized charges reversed.

• Report the fraud to the fraud department of all three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®.

• File a report with your local police department.

• Also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission’s department that deals with identity theft.

Your to-do list doesn’t end there. You’ll want to be a stickler about monitoring your bank account to look for any signs that someone else is abusing your account. Be proactive and ask your bank about setting up text messages or push notifications every time a transaction is posted. This will help you keep track of what’s going on with your money.

Much as you may not be a paper person, when you’re a victim of bank fraud, documentation matters. You want copies of bank statements, a copy of the police report, your credit report, and any other relevant materials.

Cancel Your Account

As much as it’s a hassle, you need to get a new account number to replace the compromised one. Call your bank’s customer service number, contact a rep by chat, or, if you use a traditional vs. online bank, go to your local branch. Explain your situation, and take steps to get your assets transferred to a new bank account, get new checks printed, and get a new debit card if needed to safeguard your cash.

Tips on Avoiding Bank Fraud

There are no absolutes in life, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself as much as possible.

• You can get an identity theft protection service to monitor your bank accounts and alert you to any funny business, be it suspicious withdrawals or information changes.

• When shopping online, use a credit card (it offers more protection than say a debit card), prepaid card, or a money transfer app instead of typing in your account and routing numbers.

• Be stingy with your banking information to avoid bank scams. Know that less is best when it comes to sharing info.

• Go for multi-factor authentication when banking online. If you have linked bank accounts and credit or debit cards to online platforms, absolutely sign up for additional verification in order for purchases to go through. It’s like a forcefield around your account.

• It can be wise to limit your use of paper checks to only those things where an alternate form of payment is a hassle. Remember your checks are a gold mine of personal information, with your address, account and routing numbers.

The Takeaway

In today’s world, it pays to keep close tabs on your bank accounts and related numbers. Having your bank account and routing number can allow scammers to do damage in a variety of ways, from unauthorized ACH payments to fake checks. By protecting these digits and setting up other safeguards, you’ll minimize the odds of your falling victim to these wily thieves.

While on the topic of banking, it’s wise to make sure your financial institution is a good fit and offers the services and perks that suit you best.

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FAQ

Which bank details should I keep secret?

Protect your bank account and routing numbers to avoid having scammers siphon money away from you. Setting up two-factor authentication for online transactions can help protect you, too. It goes without saying that no one except you should know your username, password, and security questions. Also shred financial documents that you don’t need.

Is it safe to give out your account details?

Share your banking information sparingly, especially online. At most, share a few key points with a trusted friend or family member, and only punch your details into secure websites (look for the “https” at the beginning of the url and the padlock symbol) — though even those aren’t 100% scam-proof.

Can I give out my routing number?

A bank routing number in and of itself reveals very little. After all, it’s a nine-digit code used by financial institutions to identify other financial institutions. It’s very much public information and only becomes a risk factor when paired with other personal details.

Can someone steal your money with your bank account number?

Typically, a scammer would need more than just a bank account number to steal your money, but routing numbers are easily found. With those two pieces of information, a crook could use those numbers for online purchases or to otherwise defraud you.

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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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What Can Someone Do With Your Bank Account & Routing Number? | SoFi (2024)
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