Learning that your account number for your bank has been compromised is a frustrating process, especially if you find out because your bank account is suddenly empty. But when you ask your bank, “Can I change my bank account number?” you might be shocked at the actual answer.
What is a bank account number?
Your bank account number is a 10-digit number that is unique and specific to your personal checking or savings account. Your account number and the bank’s routing number work together to tell others where to deposit or withdraw your money.
Think of both of these numbers like a fingerprint. The bank’s routing number is the bank’s fingerprint; it tells your employer, retailers, and bill collectors which institution you keep your money at. Your account number for your bank tells payers and payees which specific account to withdraw from or deposit into.
When should I change my bank account number?
Changing bank accounts isn’t always complicated, but it can be a hassle. Unfortunately, especially where fraud and hackers are concerned, it’s sometimes necessary. If you run into one of these situations, changing your bank account number may save you from seeing your accounts drained.
If you notice any suspicious charges on your account, be it from the grocery store or every kiosk in the mall, you should freeze your account immediately. If it turns out that you forgot your spouse went shopping, then you can unfreeze your account without penalty. But if the charges were fraudulent, you should close your account immediately and try to recover your money.
Malware, or malicious software, comes in many forms, including viruses, worms, trojans, keyloggers, and more. Hackers often use malware to try to access people’s bank accounts and other sensitive information.
If your computer is infected with malware when you log into your bank account, it’s possible that a hacker now has access to your bank account number, passwords, and more. Unfortunately, the only recourse you have is often to close your account and open a new one.
Some hackers send emails or texts pretending to be a bank, retailer, or even the government to steal your information. As a rule, you should never send your account numbers to someone who reaches out to you unsolicited. Instead, call your bank or the retailer to confirm that they were behind the messages.
If they were legitimate, you can usually resolve the issue over the phone or in person. But if your information does make it to a hacker by way of a phishing scam, it’s time to change your account number.
Will a replacement debit card have the same bank account number?
You may run into situations where you don’t need a whole new bank account number. You’ll just need a new debit card, like in cases where your debit card is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.
Fortunately, you don’t usually have to open a new bank account. Once you inform the bank of the situation, they’ll send you a card with a new number attached to your old account.
How to change bank account number
Unfortunately, you can’t change the account number for your bank, as that number tells payers and payees where to withdraw or deposit money in your name. But if your account has been compromised, you can open a new bank account. Here’s how.
The first step is to withdraw your money from your current bank account. Banks require your account balance to be zero before shutting it down. Based on the bank and your situation, you may have to do one of the following things:
- Make a cash withdrawal.
- Move the funds to an existing account.
- Transfer the funds to your new account.
Close your current account
Next, you’ll want to close your account according to your bank’s procedures. Some banks accept phone calls or online requests to close your account. Others may require written permission or a branch visit to proceed.
Get a new bank account number
Next, you’ll need to open a new bank account to get your new account number. You can do this in person at most banks, except online-only institutions. Some banks also accept digital applications.
Depending on why you’re changing accounts, you may open your account at the same bank or move to a new institution. Either way, be sure to bring your important documents like your government-issued ID and Social Security number.
Don’t forget to move your payments over
One of the most important steps in getting a new account that occurs once it’s open is rerouting your payments and deposits. Start by canceling any automatic payments from your old account to avoid ending up with insufficient fund fees. Then, provide your new account details to anyone who needs to regularly deposit or withdraw funds, including the following people and places:
- Your employer
- The Social Security office
- The local utilities company
- Your mortgage company or landlord
Compromised? A new account is the only way forward
The only way to change your bank account number is to get a whole new account. While the reasons for needing to switch are rarely pleasant, unless you’re moving to your dream job in Disneyland, the process shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Good luck!
Can you change your checking account number?
Once a checking account number is generated, it can never be changed. Although you can’t change the number associated with an existing account, you can open a new checking account.
When can I change my bank account number?
You can transfer your money to a different bank or open a new account with your existing bank. You can do it online, in person or over the phone, depending on the bank.
Can you change your bank account number online?
Your bank account number can’t be modified or changed online, but many banks and financial institutions do allow you the option to open a new bank account online.