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john65pennington's avatar

Is my money safe to pay my bills online?

Asked by john65pennington (29187points) February 9th, 2010

I have never trusted personal information on the internet. hackers just seem to be in the shadows, waiting for someones credit card numbers to be sent into cyberspace. if i decided to pay my bills by credit card, would having an identitiy theft program, like LifeLock, be of any value? has anyone had this experience? if so, what were the end results?

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6 Answers

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Have you ever though of signing up for you banking institution’s bill pay program ?
It is much safer than for you to pay your bill with a credit/debit card !

phoebusg's avatar

Use a good anti-virus, have a good software firewall. Use a secure browser (NOT IE, unless you have no other choice). Do banking only from one – secured computer/location. Use wired versus wireless for that station/computer (or extreme wireless settings, including blocking all unknown MAC addresses: http://phoebusg.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=3&Itemid=9

Free anti-virus: free.grisoft.com
Free firewall (including some anti-malware functions): http://personalfirewall.comodo.com/

Following the above, then yes I would agree with the first poster – that it can be safer than using a credit card.

Most banks allow even for automated bill payment, or monthly/time interval based payments. Personally I get all my bills electronically, and then pay them electronically.
Your bank additionally can keep track of your usual activity, and to some extent give you protection against unusual activity (aka hacker moving funds).

Other thoughts. Make sure you see HTTPS in the address bar post-log in. Be careful with “email sent from your bank” – they should never ask you for your details over an e-mail.

Happy banking :)

tedibear's avatar

As @Pretty_Lilly said, using your bank’s bill pay system is a good idea. For me, I’d rather use a bill pay system because the payment doesn’t show bank account information to the payee. Seems safer than mailing a check with my account info, name, address and signature on it.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Most of the VPN sites ( like online banking ) and such uses 128 bit SSL encryption which is pretty good stuff to keep your information safe. Most of the major merchants who use online payment and/or purchasing follow the same SSL encryption. Just make sure that when you use online payment that the page states that it is secured or information is encrypted when going through their network.

Snarp's avatar

You’re pretty safe online. I’ve been paying my bills this way for years with no problems. Most of the attacks I’ve heard about are hacks into the credit card processors’ systems, which means you could be compromised just by having the card. You’re in no more daner paying the bills online.

Also, I don’t know that paying from you bank is any safer than paying with your credit card. I pay all my bills with my credit card and then pay my credit car directly from my bank account, all of it online. That way I earn points on the credit card and I always figure that if my credit card is hijacked, I’m not out any money for fraudulent charges. If my bank account is hijacked on the other hand, I’m really out the money right away until I can convince the bank to put it back.

But really, you are quite safe doing this online as long as the sites use the encryption and security features described above and you use a sufficiently strong password. I have never bothered with identity theft protection of any kind. I keep a close eye on my accounts myself so that I will notice any fraudulent charges and I get a different credit bureau’s report every four months or so for free.

john65pennington's avatar

thanks, Snarp. i will give this consideration. good suggestion.

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