Paying bills can be tricky. It's important to not only pay your bills promptly, but also in a secure manner. For some people, bill payments are a simple task, but for others it can be mind-boggling and overwhelming. There are a variety of safe options for paying bills.
Using the Internet
The Internet is a convenient and simple option, and much quicker than mailing a check. Many banking institutions and credit unions offer Internet banking services, which allow customers to keep track of online bill payments, as well as automatically make payments on a set schedule. Bills don't all have to be paid on the first or the last of each month, but can be spread out for easier money budgeting. For example, a person using automatic online bill payment services might pay their mortgage on the first of each month, but may arrange to have other bills come out of their checking account on the 15th and 28th of each month. This helps spread payments out in between paychecks.
People who are uncomfortable with automatic bill payments can pay many bills online manually and will still receive a confirmation number that the payment was made. Manual payments are simple, but require a little record-keeping. As payments become due, the person must log in online and make payment either by credit card, debit card or through their checking account. PayPal may be an option too.
Confirmation numbers are important when making electronic payments, even if it is a check-by-phone. The best method when paying a bill is to have the actual bill on hand when making payment. As each bill is paid, even if the full amount is paid, use permanent ink to write the date, the total amount paid, the method of payment and the confirmation number on the top of the bill. This should be filed for tax preparation later. This also ensures that if the company makes a mistake, the bill payer has proof that they made payment and can also more easily access proof by looking at the bill. File the bills in order by month.
Staying Safe and Protecting Yourself
Even though making payments online can be handy, there are a lot of online scams that come in the form of bogus e-mails. Avoid clicking on e-mails that supposedly lead to online banking institutions and stick with banks and credit unions that are local to your area. Keep up on virus protection and never open e-mails requesting personal information. If an e-mail is received requesting banking information updates and it seems suspicious, forward it to your financial institution help desk before answering the e-mail. Also, avoid giving this information over the phone. A banking institution would never call you out of the blue to request information that they already have and will most likely avoid collecting personal information through your e-mail.
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