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Monday, June 30, 2008

Paying Bills Online, Hasstle Free

The easiest way of paying off your bills, even shopping online, which almost all online shops now accept and prefer Paypal payment. Hustle-free transactions as well, all you have to do is to link your credit card or debit card or even you bank itself of your account. That's it and if you are one of these typical people, who pays between eight and 15 bills every month using a pen, checkbook, return envelopes and postage stamps. It's possible you've heard of - perhaps even considered - paying your bills online, but you are conflicted by fear and worry.
Objection: Online bill paying is not safe: Not true. According to a recent survey, online bill payers are 10 percent less likely to have their identities stolen versus those who use standard payment methods.

Objection: You have to pay all of your bills on a credit card: Wrong again. While that is an option in some cases, most online bill paying connects to your checking account.

Objection: Online bill paying is too expensive: Some methods are free, while others charge only a nominal fee.

Objection: Online bill paying limits my control over my money: Completely untrue. Nothing happens without your approval. You decide what bills to pay, how much to pay and when to pay.

• Pay through your bank: Most banks now offer online bill-paying services for their account
holders. While some charge a nominal fee for the service (usually a flat monthly rate of 50 cents
or so per transaction), many offer this service completely free.
• Pay the company directly: Many utility, electric, phone, mortgage and cable-TV companies now allow you to pay them directly via their Web sites. You can pay by credit card or automatic debit directly from your checking account. Keep it as an option in the event you find yourself running late one month. You might avoid a late fee.
• Pay through an intermediary: Companies like Pay-Pal or Pay-Trust will be-come your agent in receiving and paying your bills. When you sign up for an intermediary service, you change your billing address from your home to the online company's address, where all of
your bills are sent. Your agent then pays them and debits the amount from your checking

Security should be your biggest concern. Never use a public computer or a "hot spot" wifi connection for financial transactions. Access your bank account regularly to review all transactions. If you do not recognize a charge, report it immediately. Your bank is under no legal obligation to provide a refund or remedy after 60 days. Most people I asked when researching this column said online bill paying is so fabulous they'd never go back to the old way. I cannot guarantee your experience will be the same. Just know that if you try it and don't like it, you can always cancel and go back to paper, pens, paper clips, return envelopes and postage stamps.
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