Want a free and easy way to keep your finances in line? Consider enrolling in automatic bill pay.
Numerous financial institutions are offering this service to their time-strapped customers, but surprisingly only 50 percent of U.S. consumers pay their bills online.
So what’s stopping consumers from signing up? Many perceive automatic bill pay as not secure and worry that it takes their control away. But those are major misconceptions that need to be set straight.
Automatic bill pay gives you complete control of your finances — as long as you use it wisely.
A best practice is to only enroll in auto pay for fixed bills, such as your rent and car payments. Then you can better anticipate what charges are coming in every month. Avoid auto-paying bills that vary month-to-month such as your electric or phone bill. Automatically paying a bill that is much higher than anticipated can really throw your finances out of whack.
Staying secure is a vital part of paying smart, and financial institutions are at the forefront of cyber security and identity theft protection.
When you sign up, your bank should have their privacy or security policy clearly stated. One of the most important elements of these policies is a strong data encryption policy. Take a few minutes to review how your institution is implementing the necessary security policies to keep your information secure.
All banks are required to provide identity theft protection education on their website. Review your institution’s identity theft page and make sure they provide you with the latest fraud and identity theft news and education. This is also a great opportunity to discover what fraud protection services are available to you.
Because financial institutions are required to have strong security measures in place, it’s not wise to go to third-party automatic bill pay services. These websites offer similar services. But, due to the lack of cyber security, are more prone to data breaches. There are also many fake websites and mobile apps devoted to automatic bill pay. These sites give cybercriminals your personal information when you enroll, which they can use to commit identity crimes.
The most important thing you can do to make secure automatic payments online is to keep your computer’s anti-virus and firewall protection up-to-date. Ignoring these software updates exposes your computer to malware, Trojan horses and other cyber threats that can steal any personal or financial information on your computer. Keep them at bay by running a quick scan of computer updates every few days.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.