What Does Account History Mean?

Account history is all the activity within an account, usually since inception. In a bank account, the account history includes all transactions initiated by the account holder as well as passive entries (such as interest on balances, which are credited to the account). The account history is also called a "ledger," depending on where the account is held.

Understanding Account History

Account histories can be a very important tool for credit card companies to identify fraud or identity theft, particularly when transactions are out of the ordinary in terms of their amount or place of purchase. Account history is recorded on the account statement, which is an important document to retain.

Most checking, savings, and brokerage accounts will send a monthly statement to account holders. This statement should include the account history for that month.

How Account History is Used

An account history may be referred to when a record of transactions by an individual or organization is needed to answer questions about questionable transactions. This may be particularly useful if, in addition to cases of fraud, other suspicious behavior is suspected. For example, if an individual has accepted or transferred ill-gotten funds through in their bank account, the transaction will be recorded. Likewise, if the assets and funds of an organization do not match their expected levels, the account history can provide a financial roadmap. This can reveal who accessed the account and instituted the transaction. In instances of embezzlement of corporate funds, account history can be a tool for identifying the problem and those who are responsible.

Reviewing an account history can establish patterns of income and expenses paid over the given period. This can be used to create a budget or other financial operating plan, with the account history supporting the projections outlined in those frameworks.

Account history can also be used to discern recurring purchase habits, such as how often a credit or debit card is tendered at the supermarket to pay for groceries. Such an assessment could be used to anticipate when an individual might next need to go shopping to restock.

Not all account histories are specifically tied to financial institutions but do represent transactions between parties. For instance, retailers, especially e-commerce businesses, may maintain account histories of their customers’ shopping activity. With that information, the retailer might recommend comparable items they believe would be of interest to the customer. Customers might refer to their own account history with a retailer to decide if they want to repurchase an item through the company.