Online bill payment is faster and more convenient, and it saves paper. Caution should be exercised regarding the sharing of financial information, however. Here are some things to think about with regard to paying your bills online.
Pay Your Bills Online
One of the main reasons people choose to pay online is due to environmental concerns. Online bill paying saves paper – no check, envelope, or bill in the mail – and it avoids the use of fossil fuels to deliver the mail. Electronic payment does not require a mail truck or jet fuel, in other words. There is one drawback unfortunately, that being many places charge you for this service, which is a scam in my point of view, but that is the way it is unfortunately. Some even go to $5 US dollars per transaction, so that could be $60 a year extra to pay online. We should complain about this, as the more money they make for doing nothing, which brings me to the ethics of that, but that is another story!
Manual versus Automatic
Most companies offer two basic ways that bills can be paid online. If you sign up for automatic payment, the company and your bank account connect electronically, and the payment amount is deducted from your account automatically when the bill is due. If you choose the manual option, you act as the “middle man” and log on to the company’s website and manually transfer money from your bank account to your bill. Both manual and automatic bill pay offer the option of receiving an email notification in addition to or instead of a paper bill, so to pay bills this way would seem like the logical choice and do away with the paper mess.
Is It Safe?
The safety of using online bill payment is definitely a concern. Besides stealing your money, online thieves can steal your identity, too. Sometimes, criminals intercept your bank’s web page with a doppleganger or phisher, so that you are filling in log-in information on a web page that looks like your bank’s, but isn’t. Phishing usually comes from emails, requesting you to sign in and update your account or some other banking problems, and links you to one of their phishing sites which look exactly like the actual site. To safeguard against this, never go to your bank or financial institute from a email. Always use a browser, and bookmark the page for your institution. Also, never save passwords or login data, in case your computer is compromised, that data won’t be available. After you are done with your session, make sure your log off, and then delete your browser history for those transactions, even if you are at your home computer.
Thieves can also secretly install software on your computer that monitors every keystroke you make on your keyboard. This information can be used to obtain passwords, social security numbers, and so forth. And finally, there are phishing schemes, where thieves pose as your banking institution and send you emails or telephone calls requesting log-in information, see above!
Your bank has to identify its customers, and it’s this personal information that thieves target. To safeguard, never save any information about logging in to your financial accounts, make sure if they have the option to register this computer, you select not to and that it is a public computer, even if it is not. If you choose to pay bills with the option of online payment, please be careful, and safeguard all your important data carefully!
If you decide to use online bill payment, check with your bank. Financial institutions are always trying to stay a step ahead of the criminals, so find out what your bank’s latest security software and methods are. Some banks offer a “shared secret,” where anything from your dog’s photo to an answer to a question only you could know are employed to enhance security. Still other technology makes fingerprint reading possible from your home computer.
We hope that our post pay your bills online helps you find out how to accomplish this task, help the environment, and makes the whole process easier to understand for you!