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 April 3, 2012  Posted by  Money

These days, the last thing you want is more e-mail or text messages.

You might consider signing up for a few that can save you money. We’re not talking about deals and coupons, but alerts from your bank and credit card companies.

You can sign up to be alerted about low balances, unusual activity and due dates for bills, among other things.

We were reminded of the usefulness of these types of alerts by the experience of a friend, who had signed up to be notified by her bank if her balance dipped below a certain amount. She recently got an alert, which surprised her because she thought she had plenty of money in the account.

When she checked, she discovered that someone had disposed a large —and likely bogus —check for $9,000 in her account and then begun writing checks against it. The bank was likely to discover that the check was fake just as the checks she wrote to pay her bills hit the account and bounced. Plus, she’d be out the $9,000. A quick call to her bank got all the payments reversed and things back to normal.

Even if she hadn’t been a victim of identity theft, a low balance alert could have been helpful if she’d come close to withdrawing all her funds, perhaps because a check someone had written her had bounced.

You can sign up for all kinds of helpful alerts:

•  Alerts from your credit card companies for when your payment is due or if certain kinds of transactions occur. American Express, for example, will alert you once spending on the card reaches a certain level or if certain kinds of transactions (you choose the kind) occur that could indicate fraud.

•  Alerts from your creditors if bills haven’t been paid. If you give FPL your e-mail address, the company will sent you an alert three days before your electric bill is due if you haven’t paid it.

Some companies let you choose e-mail alerts, text alerts or both.

The speed of e-mail alerts over mailed notices is invaluable in cases like these. If you accidentally overdraw your checking account, you could write about half-dozen overdrawn checks before you get a printed notice in the mail.

Teresa Mears

Teresa Mears is a website publisher, writer, blogger and editor who was raised to be frugal. In her 35 years as a journalist, she has written for papers ranging in size from the weekly Portland (Tenn.) Leader to The Los Angeles Times. She was an editor for the Miami Herald for more than 17 years, overseeing coverage of home, real estate, family and other subjects. She has also been a contributor to The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News and other publications. When she’s not writing about Florida deals, she writes and edits for MSN Money and does the Listed blog for MSN Real Estate. Teresa owns and operates Miami On The CheapFlorida On The CheapFort Lauderdale On The CheapPalm Beach On The CheapOrlando On The Cheap, Florida Keys On the Cheap and Jacksonville On The Cheap, as well as Baltimore on the Cheap and Washington, D.C., on the Cheap.

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