Online Bill Paying

October 30, 2009

In this age of technology where most things can be processed by the click of a mouse, online bill paying has become a fast, convenient, and easy way to pay bills, keep track of expenses, and save money. Is it for everyone? Obviously not – there are still those who prefer to write a check or acquire a money order to pay for their bills.

What are the pros and cons associated with online bill paying? It depends on the individual. Those who are familiar and comfortable with using a computer to shop and pay bills will continue to do so. Conversely, those new to computers may not be ready to shop or, for that matter, pay for anything online. It is a matter of trust.

There are still individuals who require a receipt for bill payments. For example, a money order has a receipt; writing a check and receiving the monthly statement is another way of determining what was paid for and how much.

With online bill paying, while it is true you can always check your account online as well as receive an email that the bill was paid on said date, there is something about this method that some individuals will find most unsettling.

Again, it is a matter of trust and choice. While online bill paying is convenient, easy, and saves time and money (not to mention reducing the amount of paper which helps our environment), there are some people who cannot quite grasp the concept.

With identity theft a major issue these days, one cannot help but understand why some individuals prefer to pay their bills the old-fashioned way. There are so many nuances in conducting bill paying online that it is essential one understands the mechanism to avoid this ongoing problem.

Here is a case in point. A woman used one credit card to pay for items on one website. On the day she purchased an item, a notice appeared on the website that something was wrong with her credit card. She immediately checked her account and noticed everything was in order. The next morning, however, she received an urgent email from the credit card company asking she call them immediately.

Upon calling the company, she was asked if she had ever charged anything to a website, the name of which she had never heard before. She told the company she hadn’t, and they immediately told her they were canceling her credit card and issuing another. Someone from the original website had obtained her credit card.

Now you may find this amazing, but this is how thieves work the system. The person charged one cent, that’s right, one penny to her account. When she asked the credit card company to explain why this individual only charged “one cent”, she was told that this is how identity theft begins. A person will charge a penny to the account, determine if the charge goes through, and then spend, spend, spend!

Is online bill paying safe? Largely, it is. However, there are times when an unscrupulous person within a particular company will take advantage of someone, and commit an egregious act that could set off a domino effect if not caught immediately.

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