Monday, March 18

Manage Your Finances Digitally – Online Services are Quick, Convenient, and Secure


How busy are you? Very! Isn’t that right? Most of our “to do” lists are a mile long. How would you like to save time on some repetitive financial chores while increasing security and benefits? Most people have online access to their financial accounts, but many are not taking full advantage of some major benefits offered such as direct deposit, electronic bill pay and even “paperless” statements. Take a moment to see how these services might work for you.

Take advantage of direct deposit

If you’re not using direct deposit, then you’re missing out on some important benefits. With direct deposit your paycheck, social security check, retirement check, or any other recurring check is electronically deposited into your account. You don’t have to wait for the check to come in the mail or go to the credit union or bank to deposit it. There’s no worry that the check might get lost in the mail or stolen from your mailbox. You also get your money more quickly. With direct deposit, the funds are typically available the day the deposit is made.

Expecting a tax refund? Have it deposited directly in your account and you’ll receive it in about 10 days. A paper check can take as much as 6 to 8 weeks. Of course, there’s also the security issue.

Take advantage of paying bills electronically

Paying bills electronically can save you time and money. Setting up automatically recurring payments, can prevent missed due dates and late fees. You’ll use fewer stamps and checks. You can pay almost any bill electronically, for example utility bills, mortgage payments, credit card bills, and insurance bills. There are several ways that you can pay bills electronically.

ACH payments. Also known as pre-authorized debits or withdrawals, these payments withdraw the amount due directly from your checking account on a specific date, typically the due date. To setup this type of payment, you must agree to the process and provide your account information. Some companies will require a signed agreement and a voided check. For others, you provide your information online.

Pre-authorized credit card charges. For some bills, you can have the bill automatically charged to a credit card. To set up this type of payment, you provide the biller with the credit card information. The biller will charge the amount due on a specific date, typically the due date.

Bill paying services. These services allow you to pay recurring bills as well as one time payments. With these services, you enter the bills you want to pay and when you want the payment to be made. The amounts are deducted from your checking account as they are made. Some services allow you to setup automatic payments. With many services, if the payee doesn’t accept electronic payment, the service will send a paper check. You may also have the option to receive electronic bills through the service.

Consider Using Paperless Statements

Many companies you do business with, such as utility companies and credit card issuers, also offer “paperless” statements. With this service, you receive a bill in your email rather than in a paper envelope in your snail mail box. Stealing bills out of mail boxes is a favorite tactic used by identity thieves to get personal information. Smart ones even open your mail carefully, copy down the information, and leave the original statement in your box—you don’t know you’ve been hit until much later. With electronic statements, you can print paper copies if needed in the security of your home or office.

Keep Your Computer Secure if You Manage Finances Online

You’ve heard this advice a thousand times, but it bears emphasizing. Your financial institutions are working hard to keep your financial account information secure from their end. But you must also do your part on your end: 1) Make sure your computer has good security software (antivirus, firewall programs, etc) installed and keep it up to date. 2) Don’t access your financial accounts or transact any financial business over any public wireless network—even if it says it is secured. 3) If you use a wireless system at home make sure it is secured before you log on to any financial services.

Enjoy Your Savings

Using online financial services such as direct deposit, electronic bill pay and paperless statements can save you time, money (for stamps and gas), and worry. Go now to the links to the resources below and see how they may work for you.

For more information

Social Security Direct Deposit

Direct Deposit Your Refund