It is easy to assume that just because your bill can be found online means that it can be paid in a single mouse click, right? Online billing gives customers the option of paying their bill digitally and without having to use a single stamp. As promising as this system sounds, the system is far from perfect. This is the case with older customers who are used to paying the snail mail route. And even if you are versed in dealing with things digitally, there are a number of hassles that get in the way of paying the bill digitally.
Automated phone messages
Suppose you forgot your password, or even your user name, because you had not had to log in to pay your bill in a while. Sometimes sites offer an easy phone number to call just in case you forgot your log in information. But many services, especially credit card services, do not give you a human employee to talk to. You sometimes have to wade through different phone options given by the automated voice. This is not just impersonal but it is also impractical if you happen to call on a cell phone with only a few minutes left on it. It also takes a while to get to an actual person to discuss logging in and other issues but even if you have to call someone again, you will mostly likely be directed to the same person not familiar with your problem.
Online bill pay opens the door to possible security breaches. Credit card information is kept hidden except for the last four numbers included, which means a hacker is able to get some access to your account with that information alone. Hackers can also use phishing software, which means they can install software that keeps track of whatever information you type in. If you are doing business online, ask if the line is secure, especially if you question a business’ integrity. If you are to still pay your bill digitally, then some precautions need to be taken like installing antivirus software so it can detect any phishing software that might be on your computer. Scan your computer regularly to ensure there are no malicious programs installed to track your information. Also, be sure to log out entirely out of the system.
Lack of records
Yes, there are digital records but what if you accidentally delete or forget to print out records? People who pay bills digitally need to make a paper trail to make sure they are not forgetting important information, especially when they have to give that information to a vendor. Worse, there is no way for a user to sign a document online, which poses trouble in the long run due to information credibility. If someone hacks your account and “signs” the documentation by entering the right information, it will be hard for you to prove to companies that it was someone else, and not you, who did business with the system. Print off information whenever possible to verify to a vendor if something goes wrong.
Sticking with paper bills
With all these risks outlined above, should you avoid paying bills digitally entirely? Paying bills is still helpful, especially if you are trying to pay a bill at the last minute. However, the technology for paying bills online has not been perfected yet and it is still likely you will need to reply on a pen, a check, and a stamp to pay your bill to different companies. So if a company asks you if you want to “go green” and switch over to paperless billing, don’t do it. Paper kills trees, but until a better online system comes along, it is an alternative to paying bills online.