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Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Microman
Date: November 30, 2008 05:31PM
I pay most of my bills through my Credit Union. Money is sent too Time Warner, Southern Cal Edison, the Gas Co., etc, from within the C.U. site. I pay American Express from the American express site, giving them my Checking Acct number, and the Routing number etc. All works fine.

I need to make some payments to CareCredit or G.E. Money Bank for some dental work. About 20 payments. I thought it would be easier then using a stamp each time.

Will it be safe for me to give them my Checking Account number and the routing number so that they can just take the money out of my account instead of having to deal with a check? Will be the same thing I am doing above when I pay American Express.

Thanks for thoughts. Seems safe since it is a big company.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2008 05:31PM by Microman.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Seacrest
Date: November 30, 2008 05:36PM
Make sure the first payment goes thru.
Try it ASAP before the due date, then check to make sure the payment is credited. Leave enough time to mail a check if it doesn't work.

I had problems with GE Money awhile back when I entered the payment details incorrectly. Besides that, though, it worked just fine.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Michael
Date: November 30, 2008 05:48PM
I wouldn't give anybody access to my checking account. Any mistake (I'd assume that they are honorable) that they might make will come out of your skin. I do send money electronically from my account, but I control it rather than giving somebody my numbers.

Why not set up an automatic payment through your credit union? You can set it up to go out monthly monthly--but remember to stop it when it's over!
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: blooz
Date: November 30, 2008 05:49PM
I've been paying Care credit for dental bills, myself. I've been doing it online with no problems after 4 or so months.
There's been no mysterious withdrawals from my checking account.



And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.
—Friedrich Nietzsche
Western Massachusetts
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: November 30, 2008 05:55PM
I would never, ever give a company--especially a credit card company--access to my bank account. Pay them through the bank's online billpay, do not ever give anybody your account information.

The billpay account should let you electronically pay just about anybody. If the payee doesn't have an electronic account, the credit union most likely will cut them a check and mail it for you (my bank does this for my city water bill, for instance). That said, a "big company" can probably accept electronic payments from a bank.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: November 30, 2008 06:01PM
I've used Checkfree for a couple years now and love it.
CheckFree



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: guitarist
Date: November 30, 2008 06:28PM
Online bill pay rocks! Through your own bank. I haven't written a paper check to pay a normal bill in years.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2008 06:28PM by guitarist.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Fritz
Date: November 30, 2008 06:34PM
always from my bank to the biller, never the other way round and I pay each month rather then set to automatic. Trust no one with your money.
All of my bills have email triggers a few days in advance of payment due.
Been doing this for several years with no problems.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: MacArtist
Date: November 30, 2008 06:40PM
I use the bill pay feature through my bank.

I used to write quite a few checks a month. Now I only write 2. A box of checks seems to last forever.



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him carry me, and yet assure myself and others
that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his
lot by all possible means — except by getting off
his back. - Leo Tolstoy, novelist and Philosopher
(1828-1910)

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Yes, most likely. But I won't do it.
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: November 30, 2008 06:43PM
I agree with Michael and Will.

It's not just unscrupulous companies doubling and triple billing you. It's the random mistake of you when they should have stopped two months ago, or accidentally withdrawing from your account to pay someone else's bill.

No, no company needs access to my bank account. My bank's online bill pay works with any debtor.






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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Go To Top
Date: November 30, 2008 06:46PM
Free Bill Pay at WaMu for one year.

Wish I had started years ago.



A man who is of "sound mind" is one who keeps the inner madman under lock and key.
(Paul Valery)
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Microman
Date: November 30, 2008 06:51PM
Yes, my C.U. is free also. So that is what I will do.

But never thought of doing it with American Express. Guess I could stop doing it the way I have been for a couple of years and do it through C.U. as well. Will think about it the next couple of months, after getting this online, now.

Thanks.

also, wonder if it would be ok to pay Ceridian using my Credit Union bill pay feature. Ceridian is my daughters Health Insurance Cobra payment. Hate to be late with that payment, but paying online with C.U. would be great also.

Will give it a try, and or call C.U. to ask questions tomorrow.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2008 07:00PM by Microman.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 07:33PM
Quote
Microman
Yes, my C.U. is free also. So that is what I will do.

But never thought of doing it with American Express. Guess I could stop doing it the way I have been for a couple of years and do it through C.U. as well. Will think about it the next couple of months, after getting this online, now.

Thanks.

also, wonder if it would be ok to pay Ceridian using my Credit Union bill pay feature. Ceridian is my daughters Health Insurance Cobra payment. Hate to be late with that payment, but paying online with C.U. would be great also.

Will give it a try, and or call C.U. to ask questions tomorrow.

I wouldn't. COBRA adminstrators are very motivated to knock you out.
I have avoided automatic payments and still mail checks for everything, so I don't know what the direct payment equivalent of a "canceled check" is, but I would not want to be without one in the case of a COBRA payment.



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 07:33PM
So what are most of you paying for online billpay?



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 07:37PM
Quote
OWC Jamie
I've used Checkfree for a couple years now and love it.
CheckFree

No Indymac, no citi, otherwise I'd be tempted.
Why don't they seem to show the fees anywhere?



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: iaJim
Date: November 30, 2008 07:38PM
Water bill, electric bill, cable bill, car insurance, and mortgage all come out automatically. I save the check, the stamp, and the time. Not a problem in two years.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: graylocks
Date: November 30, 2008 07:51PM
Quote
Black Landlord
So what are most of you paying for online billpay?

absolutely nothing with Bank of America and Wachovia.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Yes, most likely. But I won't do it.
Posted by: Seacrest
Date: November 30, 2008 07:57PM
Quote
RAMd®d
My bank's online bill pay works with any debtor creditor.





I am not Ryan Seacrest, and I do not approve this message.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 08:19PM
Quote
graylocks
Quote
Black Landlord
So what are most of you paying for online billpay?

absolutely nothing with Bank of America and Wachovia.

Thanks.



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 08:26PM
BoA's presentation of information via little flash movies makes me want to scream. Graylocks, would you humor me a few questions?

-do I have to give the companies I want to pay access to my account information?
-do I have to set it up such that they can bill any amount they want, even if they make a mistake?
-is there some process for reclaiming an erroneous or incorrect payment?
-do you have to agree to give up paper statements to participate?
-what form does proof take if there's a dispute about a payment later?



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: dmann
Date: November 30, 2008 08:31PM
I pay everything (mortgage, cc bills, utilities, health insurance, car payment etc.) via automatic bill pay (free with Chase) or direct debit. I am on the road way too much to keep track of writing checks, mailing them, etc.

I have done this for almost 5 years and (knock wood), no problems so far.

Last time I needed my checkbook, I had trouble finding it!

DM
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: November 30, 2008 08:39PM
i'm the same as dmann but i use citibank



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: graylocks
Date: November 30, 2008 08:42PM
Quote
Black Landlord
BoA's presentation of information via little flash movies makes me want to scream. Graylocks, would you humor me a few questions?

-do I have to give the companies I want to pay access to my account information?
no. you give BOA the name of the company and your account number with that company. BOA already has thousands of companies in their database. if perchance the company you're looking for isn't there, you add the billing address info.

Quote
Black Landlord
-do I have to set it up such that they can bill any amount they want, even if they make a mistake?

YOU specify how much is to be paid. if you want to set up automatic payments (like for mortage payments) you specify the amount and when the payment is to arrive.

Quote
Black Landlord
-is there some process for reclaiming an erroneous or incorrect payment?

probably though in 4 years of doing this i have never had a problem. every payment has a confirmation number. the one time a business was not crediting me for a payment, BOA customer service was VERY concerned and proactive. it seemed like the last thing they wanted was for the customer to be uneasy about online banking.

Quote
Black Landlord
-do you have to agree to give up paper statements to participate?

no. they keep pushing it for the vendors they have that offer it but paperless statements are not required.

Quote
Black Landlord
-what form does proof take if there's a dispute about a payment later?

the confirmation number i mentioned and BOA's very responsive customer service.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 08:43PM
Quote
mattkime
i'm the same as dmann

TMI :-)



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: graylocks
Date: November 30, 2008 08:43PM
i'm like dmann. the only checks i write are for my son's church youth retreats and soccer. i go through a lot of check registers but i probably write less than 10 checks a year.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 08:51PM
Quote
graylocks
Quote
Black Landlord
BoA's presentation of information via little flash movies makes me want to scream. Graylocks, would you humor me a few questions?

-do I have to give the companies I want to pay access to my account information?
no. you give BOA the name of the company and your account number with that company. BOA already has thousands of companies in their database. if perchance the company you're looking for isn't there, you add the billing address info.

Quote
Black Landlord
-do I have to set it up such that they can bill any amount they want, even if they make a mistake?

YOU specify how much is to be paid. if you want to set up automatic payments (like for mortage payments) you specify the amount and when the payment is to arrive.

Quote
Black Landlord
-is there some process for reclaiming an erroneous or incorrect payment?

probably though in 4 years of doing this i have never had a problem. every payment has a confirmation number. the one time a business was not crediting me for a payment, BOA customer service was VERY concerned and proactive. it seemed like the last thing they wanted was for the customer to be uneasy about online banking.

Quote
Black Landlord
-do you have to agree to give up paper statements to participate?

no. they keep pushing it for the vendors they have that offer it but paperless statements are not required.

Quote
Black Landlord
-what form does proof take if there's a dispute about a payment later?

the confirmation number i mentioned and BOA's very responsive customer service.
Thanks!
So I basically log in and pay each bill individually, rather than it being a recurring/automatic thing?
And how long does it take to credit usually?



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: graylocks
Date: November 30, 2008 09:13PM
Quote
Black Landlord
Thanks!
So I basically log in and pay each bill individually, rather than it being a recurring/automatic thing?
And how long does it take to credit usually?

yes, although if you want a payment to happen automatically you can set that up. i do that for bills that do not change like mortgage, utilities, insurance. if a bill does vary every so often, it's easy to amend.

when you enter a payment BOA shows you what day the money will arrive to the vendor/creditor. with many companies they only need a one day payment lead. they'll show you how many days it'll take to get there but again, they will specify the day the money will arrive.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2008 09:13PM by graylocks.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 09:25PM
Many thanks. I guess I'm still concerned that I would not have anything resembling "proof" were a payment to not be recorded.



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: graylocks
Date: November 30, 2008 09:43PM
Quote
Black Landlord
Many thanks. I guess I'm still concerned that I would not have anything resembling "proof" were a payment to not be recorded.

i just looked at the payment details for an Amex payment. it tells me when the payment was electronically transmitted to Amex, when the payment was applied, and when the funds were withdrawn from my account. they all have the same day. there's also a confirmation number and a button to contact customer service to inquire about the payment.

i was nervous about this when i started. i used it for just a few bills. then a few more. then i tried a few automatic payments. now i can't imagine living without it. BL, notice that no one has posted that they have had any problems with online billpay. sign up and dip your toes in - the water's fine!



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: November 30, 2008 10:04PM
Quote
graylocks
Quote
Black Landlord
Many thanks. I guess I'm still concerned that I would not have anything resembling "proof" were a payment to not be recorded.

i just looked at the payment details for an Amex payment. it tells me when the payment was electronically transmitted to Amex, when the payment was applied, and when the funds were withdrawn from my account. they all have the same day. there's also a confirmation number and a button to contact customer service to inquire about the payment.

i was nervous about this when i started. i used it for just a few bills. then a few more. then i tried a few automatic payments. now i can't imagine living without it. BL, notice that no one has posted that they have had any problems with online billpay. sign up and dip your toes in - the water's fine!
Thanks. I appreciate your validating my nervousness.
I will proably pick a few things and try them that way-- gas, electricity, phones.



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: wurm
Date: November 30, 2008 10:26PM
Online bill pay is the only way to fly. I'm sure most banks' systems work similarly, but when I go to enter a payment, it pre-fills in the date that it will be credited to your account. You can always set a later date, but not earlier. Usually if the payee will accept electronic payments, it's only a day or so away, but for some where the bank has to send a paper check, it may be several days. You'll always know, though. And you always get a confirmation number for your records, in the event of a dispute (although I've never had one in many years of using online bill pay. Our bank's online bill pay system is free to use, as I believe most are now.

Interestingly, I continue to pay my Amex bill through their website, because they'll accept an online payment up until midnight of the due date. I've never come that close, but it's nice to know I could. smiling smiley
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: December 01, 2008 06:12AM
Quote
Black Landlord
BoA's presentation of information via little flash movies makes me want to scream. Graylocks, would you humor me a few questions?

-do I have to give the companies I want to pay access to my account information?
-do I have to set it up such that they can bill any amount they want, even if they make a mistake?
-is there some process for reclaiming an erroneous or incorrect payment?
-do you have to agree to give up paper statements to participate?
-what form does proof take if there's a dispute about a payment later?

I've been paying all my bills electronically since about 1999. Had exactly one payment go wrong (not too long after I started), and the bank cleared it up within a week--their fault, not mine. As long as you're going through a reputable bank, you shouldn't have any trouble--especially on a Mac, since you're not going to be very susceptible to malware, keyloggers, etc.

The money you'll save in blank checks and postage alone is worth the switch, to say nothing of the hassle factor of mailing stuff.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Fritz
Date: December 01, 2008 08:29AM
I pay almost everything with either citi or chase. Free (thus far) in both cases.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Michael
Date: December 01, 2008 11:18AM
I use Fidelity for virtually all of my online payments. It's free and it links to a money market account in my primary investment account. One really nice thing is that I can pay bills for more than I have in my money market account since I set up my various funds as margin accounts. So, if I pay a bill for more than I have in my money market account, Fidelity automatically loans it to me on margin for a couple of percentage points above prime and then when I redeposit money to my money market account, it automatically pays my margin back. I have mine set up so that all my bills are automatically paid. I have my credit cards set at an amount that will cover minimums, but then I change those each month when the bill comes in to pay off the card. The benefit of that, to me, is that I would sometimes lose track of a credit card bill and then have a significant charge associated with the missed payment. This way, a payment cannot be missed. I just have to remember to change the amount when a bill comes. If I forget to do that, I simply have to pay interest on a balance. That happens maybe once per year.

I also opened a checking account with Fidelity (mySmart Cash Account) that pays a higher interest (presently .6%) than my other checking account. It reimburses ATM fees at virtually all banks and gives free checks (that I never use). The other benefit is that it's linked to my brokerage account, so I can never bounce a check unless I'm past my margin amount on my brokerage account. I do have a local checking account with Wachovia so that I can easily deposit checks. I've linked that account with Fidelity so I can electronically move money back and forth between them.

I was nervous about billpay for a while, but I'm pleased to have it--it's made my life much easier.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Blankity Blank
Date: December 01, 2008 02:33PM
I've paid bills online, through the company in question's website, for years with no problems. However, I did set up an account just for the payments; my main account is untouchable by creditors. Only money for the payments goes into this account and I make the payment using the account's debit card. Every payment I make generates a confirmation page with the date, time and some type of unique serial number for the payment.

But some companies are looking, yet again, for ways to siphon money from your wallet by charging a fee for online payments, I've seen fees as high as $15.00 per payment, or at the very least for payments that are attributed to your account immediately rather than with a one or two day waiting period. Paying those at least a week in advance dodges that bullet.
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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: S.Taylor
Date: December 01, 2008 05:07PM
The only problem I've had with automatic bill pay is a couple of occasions where the credit card company changed my minimum payment, and I didn't happen to notice. I've had cc companies bring my rate up to 29% because my automatic payment was $7 short.

It's tempting to let the autopay take care of everything, but you gotta watch it.



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Re: Is it safe to pay monthly bills to a company online?
Posted by: Black Landlord
Date: December 01, 2008 09:47PM
I paid my phones and citi last night.
Kind of nervous though-- especially for the home phone, as there were several viable company options.
S. Taylor, we're not talking about Autopay. You enter the specific amount for the transaction you want to make, just like you would writing a check.
I like being able to enter the transaction in my checkbook just like writing checks.
Too bad Indymac is missing.



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