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Paying Your Bills Online
by John M. Roberts

For the millions of people who have access to computers and the internet, it is becoming increasingly advantageous to shop and pay bills from home or the office.

The internet has become a very popular way of taking care of business and many companies are actively trying to persuade their customers to make their payments online, and they are making it easy to do so. They allow you set up payment schedules and then help you manage your accounts by giving you the tools and resources that you need.

As a consumer, paying bills online has it's advantages they are easy to recognize. As stated above, the most obvious benefit is not having to travel to a store or other location to pay a bill but there are numerous other advantages to consider.

The savings come from using less gas, less envelopes and stamps, and less checks. There is less paperwork to deal with and if set up right, it is easier to manage your bills and keep your debt under control by having everything at your fingertips at a central location.

You will find it easier to keep your credit in good shape by paying your bills on time and not having to worry about them going out late or getting lost in the mail. You can pay them on the day they are due and not have to pay late charges or worry about damage to your credit score.

The advantages are real but there are also some disadvantages that need to be addressed, especially security. Although online banking and bill paying are considered safer than writing checks and sending them through the mail, there are reasons to be cautious of how you transact business on the internet.

Security is a major issue for internet users. There is a large criminal element that is working relentlessly to find ways steal your personal information. If they can get your name, address, Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, ATM card pin number and/or other important information, they can cause you major financial problems.

  • Never give your personal information to anyone on the internet that you don't know and make sure that the companies you do give it to have secure sites.
  • Keep a paper trail. If you have a printer, print copies of all bills you pay and store them in a file. If you don't have a printer, save all pertinent information.
  • Investing in an external hard drive is also a good idea so if your computer crashes or becomes unusable, you will still have the information and it can be downloaded into another computer.
  • Be careful of fraudulent emails and other techniques used to trick you into giving out your personal information. Emails can look legitimate but they may be from criminal sources. Immediately delete unrecognizable emails.

Articles, advertisements, or pages may pop up that have logos on them that resemble those belonging to major companies. If you are not expecting them, or if they don't look right, don't click on. They may contain viruses that can damage or destroy your computer hard drive.

To be safe, review your online banking transactions on a regular basis and take note of any suspicious activity. Change your password often and use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols that are distinguishable to no one but you.

Install anti-virus and anti-spam software on your computer. Not only will it help block viruses, it will also block certain spam and junk mail.

Online shopping and banking is no longer a thing of the future. It's already here and it's growing in popularity. If you want to save money, gas, time and energy, online banking may be a great opportunity for you.


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