You can be paranoid and still pay your bills online
by happy2000usa - 12/10/11 12:40 PM
I have paid my bills online for several years. I used to go to individual sites and pay using a credit/debit card--or direct transfer from my account--but was very careful to tell the vendor I did not want the convenience of them "memorizing" my card or account data.
My bank started offering bill payment services a few years ago and I jumped on it. It takes a little time to set up as you need to make a list of all of your accounts you pay--vendor data and account numbers--and input it into the bank's program. After entering it, I then paid a small amount to each vendor and checked to ensure my account was credited.
Being paranoid about hackers, I was unsure if the banking data being sent to the vendor was safe, so I opened a second checking account, strictly for bill paying. When I deposit in my main account, I transfer adequate funds for paying the bills to my bill paying account and pay them. (Note: my bank transfers funds immediately, but some might delay before crediting your bill paying account--you might check with your bank.) By setting up this second account, which is kept at $0--except when I'm paying bills--I don't worry if someone hacks the telephone company and retrieves my payment's bank data. If they try to take money from it, there's none to be had.
For point-of-sale payments, I use PayPal. This is a "middle man" bank that makes the payment to the vendor then takes that amount from your checking or credit card account. I've used it since the service as inaugurated and have always been impressed with their attention to security. They've recently opened a new service called "Bill Me Later," which does just what it says. Rather than taking money from your account for each purchase, you are presented with a monthly bill to pay, so you can add it to your list.
I use this service primarily for medication I have sent to my house from Walmart and Costco.
Occasionally I run across a vendor who doesn't accept PayPal. For this, I have a debit card associated with my bill paying account. I transfer enough into the account to cover the cost of the purchase and use that debit card to satisfy the vendor. Again, if someone hacks the vendor's site and retrieves my credit card number, they'll find the cupboard bare.
The only problem I've had is with automatic payments. Not wanting to leave funds in my account awaiting the automatic debit, I was paying manually, before the automatic transfer, In some cases, the vendor took it to mean I was "paying ahead" and still tried to collect the automatic payment on the payment date. Consequently, I don't use the automatic bill paying.
Hope this helps,