succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, June 15, 2009

A series of tubes

I have been extremely hesitant to convert to online bill pay. I know all the cool kids are doing it, and I'm hardly anti-technology. But I just don't get warm fuzzies about putting my bank account information in multiple places on the web. And security aside, I'm also not crazy about giving utility companies and other bill collectors (a group not exactly known for accuracy or willingness to refund) a direct siphon into my checking account. But lately I've been getting dinged for being old fashioned - one credit card bill was lost in the mail getting to me, so I was penalized 300% the following month for being one month behind (this happened in the midst of defending/apartment hunting/moving so I wasn't exactly on top of my billing cycles enough to notice the missing bill). Then another check took 10 days to get from me to the credit card company, so now I've got two months of finance charges before I prove myself a prompt customer again.

So what do you think peanut gallery? Is the risk associated with the US postal service now greater than the risk of online security? Am I just being paranoid? Should I make the jump to the 21st century?

I've also considered converting most of my online payments to one credit card (one with pretty good fraud protections) and then paying that one bill via the mail. But it seems to be my credit cards (shocker) that are causing all the mail problems, not my utilities, so I'm not sure this alternative solution really gets me anywhere...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you're worried about pouring your sensitive info down the "tubes", don't.

most banks today have a service called "bill pay"(usually for free). so instead of signing up for electronic payment for your cell phone, water bill, internet and so have but on web site to manage and one page with all your payees listed. also, think about the money you'll save on stamps and envelopes.

hope this helps :)

12:52 PM  
Blogger Sid said...

I manage nearly everything online. And in terms of identity theft, I believe the current research is that you're much more likely to get screwed via physical items (bills that get sent to the wrong person, lost checkbooks, etc.) than by electronic mediums.

My recommendation is to just not to set up auto-bill pay. As long as you go to a website to check a bill/authorize a payment, I think you'll be fine. I haven't had any problems, and I certainly love the convenience of it.

7:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'n' had it down. Do *NOT* give anyone your info to PULL money FROM you. Rather, set it up to automatically PUSH to them from your bank. If a bill varies from $34.20 to $42.20 each month, just setup an auto pay for $45 each month. When you get the bill, you can go in and edit the amount before it goes out. If you forget, or dont get the bill/on time etc, no late charges/credit risk... it's a fail-safe to make sure SOMEthing gets paid. If you overpay no worries, can cut back next month.
I also do this with credit card bills. I plan to pay the balance each month, but I also have a recurring 100-150 go to them JUST in case I'm traveling and forget etc... makes sure the minimum payment is covered no matter what, and I just true it up when I pay the balance.

9:14 AM  

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