First and foremost, you want to use a legitimate bank. Sticking with a large, widely known bank should be a safe bet. If you’re considering a smaller institution—or if you just want to be extra safe—use the Bank Find tool at the FDIC’s website to make sure the bank is a member of the FDIC, which means that your deposits will be insured up to FDIC limits.
Choosing a bank with a good reputation is a bit trickier. In 2016 Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees who had opened 2 million unauthorized bank accounts for the bank’s customers in order to meet sales targets and earn bonuses.56 Those customers then ended up paying fees on those accounts. The bank is now working to rebrand itself as “re-established.”
Chase Bank has also paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and settlements in recent years related to bribing foreign officials, manipulating interest rates, and other misdeeds.8 These aren’t the only banks that have misbehaved on a massive scale, but they are two of the best-known examples. In short, you may want to do your research on reputation before committing to a bank.