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See you later snail mail, hello online bill paying! Advice needed.

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 9, 2011 7:42 AM PST
Question:

See you later snail mail, hello online bill paying! Advice needed.


Hello, I confess that as far as paying bills, I'm stuck in the 20th
century; I still write checks and snail mail. However, with the news
that the United States Postal Service will no longer process mail
as quickly, I think it's time to manage my bills online. Can you
recommend a program that will coordinate my bills for me so I can
handle my payments through one program rather than individually with
each vendor? Also, what risks do I face from identity theft once my
information is entered on the Web and how can I minimize such risks?
Any tips or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for all you do. Happy
Holidays!

- Submitted by Cynthia S.

If you have any advice or suggestions for Cynthia, please click the "Reply" link below and submit away. Please be as detailed as possible when providing your advice.
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I bank on line
by MrsPumpkin / December 9, 2011 10:08 AM PST

I do all my banking on line through my own bank. I am a senior and money is deposited direct, so why not pay the bills there too. The set up is https: secure, and you can set it up doubly safe with a nickname, and security questions. Its really simple to use, once you get the payable bills listed. I used to have to drive one hour, and spend half the day going from business to business paying bills, now in less than 5 minutes, they can all be paid on line through the bank. Once you pay a bill, they give you reference number to keep to show it was paid, so if there is a problem, you can refer to when it was made.You can even transfer money between some accounts, or even send email money to someone.

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BUT...
by promytius / December 16, 2011 9:46 AM PST
In reply to: I bank on line

My area of New England just in the last 6 months has experienced over two weeks of outages - then how do you pay your bills online? The mail kept coming, even if I didn't have a light bulb to read them by.
Paper is proof.
No way am I ever going to pay online.

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this is unusual, obviously
by briegull / December 16, 2011 10:04 AM PST
In reply to: BUT...

But you could have gone to any library around and logged on and then cleared the cache before you left so that there was no record of it.

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g'bye, Mint
by peejay44 / December 16, 2011 11:51 AM PST

Quicken purchased Mint. Cry

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Same mgmt
by dsttexas / December 17, 2011 12:28 AM PST
In reply to: g'bye, Mint

Yea, but the head of Mint was given the top management job over both Quicken and Mint. Both online Mint and desktop/online Quicken will benefit over time.

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Agree
by DADSGETNDOWN / December 16, 2011 11:53 AM PST
In reply to: BUT...

I agree 100 percent. And those who think they save time or take "the easy way", Lol..
Are just jeopardizing the rest of us. And USPS is also another line of defense to theft privacy and such.
Paper is proof, your reference numbers and emails and such are not nearly as reliable.
And lets not forget about customer service/ live person. Always takes longer online, they pretty much never
understand your problem etc et-cetra.

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rubbish
by booch221 / December 16, 2011 12:12 PM PST
In reply to: Agree

Who's to say someone can't steal your USPS mail?
Just because you use online bill pay doesn't mean you can't telephone a customer service/ live person.
And finally, contacting a customer service/ live person doesn't guarantee they will understand your problem, it doesn't even guarantee they will speak English or whichever language you prefer to conduct business in.

<div>

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Strongly Disagree
by Meatman--2008 / December 16, 2011 12:29 PM PST
In reply to: Agree

The USPS is a line of defense? Huh? How many checks, credit cards, and identity theft do you think occur from stolen mail? Unless you are some union postal worker worried about downsizing on-line bill pay is the safest, easiest, and most reliable way to pay bills. You pay the day you make it, get confirmation email, reference numbers, and amount paid. What more do you need? I have never had any problem what so ever doing it this way for the last 8 years! Never auto pay, always manually pay close or on the due date. Payment can also be verified on-line if you use your bank or credit card. I can't believe this is even being discused it's so obvious. The fact that some are demanding snail mail is shocking. These probably are from the same crowd that demand the actual physical check is returned to them each month. Confused

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Do you buy anything online?
by theGadgetman / December 18, 2011 3:10 AM PST
In reply to: Agree

So if you don't trust online banking/payment, then you don't buy anything from online sites like Amazon? Also, I guess you don't trust ATM? How do you think your deposit/withdrawal from those ATMs update your bank account? Do you think USPS takes all those transactions and deliver them to your bank?

Remember, delivery of your snail mail is done by a person. How many times have you received a mail that was meant to be delivered to your neighbor? I've had my neighbor bring me my bank statements before I completely switched to online statement. I also agree with booch221 and Meatman--2008.

You stated going online is "the easy way"? It's actually the other way around. I take the responsibility of retrieving my bank/credit card statements. I take the responsiblity of making sure my payments are made. I agree you need a proof of payment, but you can still do that online. Whenever I purchase online or make payment online, I aways print to a PDF for the "proof" you're referring to. And yes, I ensure those "proof" are protected. I have RAID6 NAS for home cloud and I also back them up to discs (if you really want a proof that you can hold in your hand, then you can go ahead and "burn" trees by printing them).

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Nothing is really safe against someone really wanting to ...
by jrdnjstn / December 18, 2011 9:34 AM PST
In reply to: Agree

I hate to say but even your mail can be stolen. I have a "community mail box" where everyone's mail is a box but it is all together. I have gotten different people's mail on many occassions. I take it to their place personally instead of throwing it away or whatever else other people do. I have seen people's mail left out there in the open. So easy for anyone to open it and get info. If you have single mail box anyone can go by and open it unless you have a lock on it and a small slot so the mail can be dropped in.

I have had my credit card number stolen and it wasn't done online either. They stole my number when I gave someone my credit card to pay for something. Thankfully I had gone to the credit card site to look at my account for something and saw a purchase of $1000! Now I scratch off the 3 digit code on all my credit cards and I write it down and keep it in a safe place.

Remember that thieves don't need much to go open an account in your name or even get a new social security card in your name. You just can't trust anyone

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Snail mail
by ostewbeef / December 19, 2011 2:14 AM PST
In reply to: Agree

I'm still in the stone age also as I just don't like my banking information sitting out there. There's to many people out there hacking. I found out in October that a couple places had my credit card information on their site when I started to pay for something I was purchasing. I never gave the okay for them to keep that info. After completing the purchase had to go back into the account and remove the info. (Amazon and Walmart)

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I've had more payments lost by USPS than online.
by sailsomsen / December 20, 2011 10:16 AM PST
In reply to: Agree

I've had more payments lost by USPS AND bills lost by USPS than ever online. I'd much prefer to receive online bills and pay online.

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Whaaat?
by Flashgirlx / December 26, 2011 2:50 AM PST
In reply to: Agree

You are sadly misinformed.

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Outages should never be a problem
by cnj0ancn / December 16, 2011 1:07 PM PST
In reply to: BUT...

if you set up recurring payments it's paid automatically and some banks would also receive the bills (if you select that option) and pay the monthly amounts.
One advantage of online bill pay is that you do not HAVE to do check spend time looking at the bill and managing the payments every month. Automation does all of that for you, you just have to make sure you have funds in your account.,

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(NT) Outage - try a generator?
by whisperer / December 16, 2011 5:59 PM PST
In reply to: BUT...
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(NT) I set up a date in my online account for my bills to be paid
by Fran200 / December 16, 2011 9:32 PM PST
In reply to: BUT...
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Outages are Far and few in between...........
by phantom25 / December 16, 2011 10:39 PM PST
In reply to: BUT...

Such outages are far and few.The last time such long outage happened was over 10 years ago.How many bills piled up in two weeks any how? Paying online saves you time and money. Most of my bills are automated so even if I have power outage they will be paid. If you go paperless,you have access to the copy of your bills online 24/7 along with the images of checks that you wrote. I can even pay and view them via my smartphone so I can make payments from any where.

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Paying Bills
by jeffwyant / December 17, 2011 2:18 AM PST
In reply to: BUT...

Have you heard of auto bill-pay? Pay everything with a credit card and set up auto bill-pay with your bank.
By the way, a generator will provide electricity.
Do you have a web-enabled phone? Think about using it.

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auto pay for the not too bright
by UKARURLMXCU / December 20, 2011 3:57 AM PST
In reply to: Paying Bills

Those who use auto pay are either lazy or not too bright. Why? You have no control over WHEN you pay the bill; auto pay just uses the original date you put in when you signed up for the auto pay. Yes, you can change that date, but why endure the hassle? And if you really want the bad guys to get your information, by all means use that phone!!

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Payments go through without your help!
by bobzearl / December 17, 2011 5:47 AM PST
In reply to: BUT...

Most of our bills are a fixed or predictable amount. Even utilities have budget plans. Set your bill pay to pay the bill every month a day or two after your direct deposit arrives. Now it gets paid on time and who needs any electric? You can go in to your bank branch (or use the phone banker) to change payment amounts or dates of payment. Electronic banking is how you get your direct deposit on time every month. I didn't trust it at first either 10 years ago, but it works quite well. BobZ

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EXCELLENT EXAMPLE
by mkrock / December 19, 2011 5:45 AM PST
In reply to: BUT...

Excellent example and good reply. The majority of society depends on electricity, just as they do the USPS, but they are quick to condemn the USPS. Let them all experience what you had to go thru, with no power for several weeks, then maybe they might be a bit more considerate of the USPS.

I'm with you... postage stamps for me.

And for those who are giving the thumbs down, give me a break... if you have never experienced a power outage for a long period of time, then re-think how you click the rave or thumbs down.

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Just a few additional suggestions....
by JCitizen / December 16, 2011 11:16 AM PST
In reply to: I bank on line

Always use a bank/credit union that will only accept pay request from vendors who you personally setup at that institution. I say this because it is possible for banking criminals to gain access through your computer or even the vendor's business to setup payments electronically if the financial institution doesn't have these rules. I have to personally show up at my credit union and give them the account number of the business I wan't paid; and then they will accept auto pay request from them.

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I pay my bills on-line
by gerry908 / December 16, 2011 2:14 PM PST
In reply to: I bank on line

I live in Australia and have been paying ALL my bills on-line through my bank using Bpay for the last 10 years.
I can pay it immediately, or I can schedule it to be paid on a date I want it to be paid and if I choose the scheduled method, my bank sends me an email when the bill has been paid.
As soon as I receive a bill, I go straight on-line and schedule it to be paid and that takes all the worry out of forgetting to pay it......Fantastic

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Happy with my bank's web site
by gerry908 / December 17, 2011 9:23 AM PST
In reply to: I bank on line

I'm the same as you, I pay all my bills through my bank's web site, it's secure and I have a record of all my payments. I can also transfer money from one account to another as well as other people's accounts in Australia as well as overseas and I'm 100% happy with this system. I've been doing this for 10 plus years and never had one problem

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email money
by PC Puppy / December 18, 2011 12:15 AM PST
In reply to: I bank on line

Hi, I'm, PCPuppy and am curious about the term you used, "EMAIL MONEY", never heard of it. Please explain? Thank you. Sincerely, PCPuppy Happy

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email money
by netsiu / December 18, 2011 5:50 AM PST
In reply to: email money
Looking back at these few post I don't see the quote email money but in a way that is what PayPal does.
You can also do a bank acount to bank acount money transfer online as well as in bank (My acount to Your acount type). Most if not all banks charge a fee.
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Bill Pay at Your Bank
by elbet3 / December 9, 2011 10:11 AM PST

Hi Cynthia, We use Bill Pay at our bank. You can either set up regular payments to be made such as utilities or other fixed expenses or go in each time you receive a bill and tell your bank to pay it and what date to send it. As they deduct it from your account you can see what is happening. They keep the information on file which makes it easy the next time you pay the bill. Try it, I think you will like itand usually its free. Most banks have pretty good security systems. I have done this for years with no problem.

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Stand Alone Computer

If you have a reasonably working extra computer that you are not using, I would suggest formatting it and using it SOLELY for your online banking and purchase and do not attach it to your home network. This is what I use my old computer for. That's all it does is online banking, bill paying. This will cut down dramatically on risking exposure to bugs. virii, malware and whatnot so you are extra secure for your transactions.

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Then how they connect?
by stevem291 / December 9, 2011 11:08 PM PST
In reply to: Stand Alone Computer

You suggested to not connect to the home network. Are you suggesting they go to a public connection, I hope not. You need to be more clear on this.

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Separate connection...
by JCitizen / December 16, 2011 10:33 AM PST
In reply to: Then how they connect?

I believe he is recommending a totally separate connection at home; although this is an ideal situation; most folks are not going to be able to comply. I feel if one uses a dedicated computer, and at least puts a VERY good firewall like Online Armor, or Comodo, and doesn't allow workgroups or sharing on that dedicated PC, with the other computers on the network, this will be sufficient for most folks.

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