What Is an Account History?

An account history, as applied to financial accounts, is a running record of all of the financial transactions logged in a bank, credit card, or investment statement.

In a bank or credit card statement, the account history records all credits and debits. In a statement from a broker, it records all purchases and sales of assets. Both also reflect passive entries such as interest payments and deductions for fees. The account history also may be called a ledger.

Key Takeaways

  • An account history is a chronological record of all of the money paid into and out of a bank account, credit card, or investing account.
  • A monthly statement reflects a 30-day period of your account history.
  • The account history records all changes to the account including passive activity such as interest payments and fee deductions.
  • Consumers and businesses use their account histories to track their own income and spending patterns.
  • Government authorities use account histories when investigating suspicious financial activity.
  • Financial institutions monitor account histories to spot unusual and possibly criminal activity such as identity theft.

How an Account History Works

An account history is an important tool that keeps track of where and when money is being paid in or paid out. It is used by the account holder to reconcile inflows and outflows and balance the account.

Most online account histories update instantly to reflect credits and debits. A 30-day account history is typically what is provided, but you can view many account histories beyond 30 days. Past statements for recent periods also are available to download. Older statements may be archived and available only by request.

The account history is typically available to view or download through the companies’ client portals. Most companies will mail a monthly statement if you prefer.

The term “account history” can apply to other types of accounts and uses, such as your browser use. For example, Google’s My Activity allows you to view what websites you visited.

Corporate Oversight and Government Use

Beyond their uses to customers, account histories are an important tool for credit card companies. They monitor their accounts to spot possible fraudulent activity, particularly identity theft. Their automated systems pinpoint transactions that are out of the ordinary in terms of their amount or place of purchase.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may review an individual’s account history to investigate possible illegal activities such as tax evasion or money laundering. Many financial crimes are resolved by a thorough analysis of account histories.

Uses of an Account History

Financial Fraud or Error

An account history is a financial roadmap to the activities of a person or an organization. A credit card account can show where and when an you had lunch, stopped for gasoline, or shopped at a convenience store. A bank account will record how much money you have been paid, and by whom.

So, an account history may be referred to in the course of investigating legally questionable transactions.

This may be particularly useful if suspicious behavior in addition to fraud is suspected. For example, if you have received or transferred ill-gotten funds into a bank account, the transaction will be recorded. If the assets and funds of an organization in the account history do not match the levels reported elsewhere. some irregular activity or error is obvious.

Note

In instances of embezzlement of corporate funds, the account history can be a tool for identifying the loss and those who are responsible for it.

Purchase Habits

An individual or a business can use an account history to understand patterns of income and expenses over a given period. The information can be used to create a realistic budget based on routine and ongoing expenses.

An account history can also be used to discern recurring purchase habits, such as how often a credit or debit card is used to pay for groceries. Such an assessment could be used to anticipate when you might next need to restock.

Business Use

Not all account histories are routinely reported to the consumer. For instance, retailers, especially e-commerce businesses, may maintain account histories of their customers’ shopping activity for internal use.

The information is routinely used to recommend comparable items that might be of interest to the customer, to display advertising for similar products, or to remind the customer to reorder an item that may be running low.

Benefits of Checking Your Account History

Collectively, a bank account history, a credit account history, and a financial account history offer a complete overview of your income, spending, and saving activity for any given period. You should routinely monitor the money in and money out to minimize the risk of a bounced check or detect possible fraud.

A suspicious entry in an account history can be the earliest warning of a criminal or fraudulent attack on an account. Checking your account history can also help you detect any errors a retailer may have made when charging you.

Bank Statement vs. Transaction History

The transaction history or account history is the detailed portion of any financial statement.

The top of a bank statement for a 30-day period reports the account’s available balance as well as the total amount of deposits and the total amount of withdrawals for the period. This is essentially a high-level overview.

Do Checking and Savings Accounts Impact Your Credit Score?

A credit score records only debt activity. Your credit score reflects your history of acquiring and repaying debt. If you have a credit line attached to your checking account and you have a balance outstanding on it, it would be reflected on your credit report because that is a type of loan. Otherwise, your checking and savings account activities have no impact on your credit score.

How Long Do Banks Keep Records of Checking and Savings Accounts?

Banks are required by federal law to keep records of all deposits over $100 for five years. They can choose to keep them longer.

Can You Access Old Bank Accounts?

The balances in forgotten or abandoned bank accounts are eventually turned over to the state in which the accounts were opened. Individual state laws and practices determine how the money can be recovered (and how easily). A site called MissingMoney.com has links to the relevant pages of U.S. states and Canadian provinces that have procedures in place to help you locate and recover the money in these accounts.

The Bottom Line

An account history as it applies to financial accounts is essentially a record of your transactions in a specific account. It allows you to see the factors that influenced how you total account balance was calculated. Regularly reviewing your account history can help you ensure that your account balance is accurate.

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