Technology has provided our society with limitless amounts of convenience. In the world of development, many of these mainstream comforts are in their infancies. Just a decade ago, for example, the majority of consumers were still paying their bills via “snail mail” or over the phone. The notion of paying the mortgage through a DSL line was practically unheard of, and yet, the trend of online bill payment saw swift and positive acceptance. Like many others, you may have a predilection for online payments. After all, they are simple, quick, and effective, right? Perhaps, but the exception to the rule is the one that could land you in serious credit repair trouble. When the web is your source of financial responsibility, follow the tips below to ensure your safety. When it comes to convenience, your credit score is too high of a price to pay.
1. Pursue auto-pay with caution (or not at all).
The auto-pay option is equipped with the following misconception: “A computer will now pay my bills for me, which will reduce my level of involvement in the process.” –Not only is this misconception easy to assume, it is the reason that many bills go unpaid. True: Auto-pay is designed to remove a certain amount of money from your checking account each month. False: You do not need to verify when this transaction occurs. Carrying credit and other responsibilities requires exactly what it implies: Responsibility. While your computer can pay your bills automatically, your creditor will hold you responsible if a payment error occurs. There is no substitute for personal attention. Make bill payment a priority each month by verifying that your payments have been accepted.
2. Be assertive about clerical mistakes.
To err is human, and computers are designed by people. It’s not difficult to predict that clerical computer errors are bound to happen, even regarding online bill payments. While it isn’t appropriate to call your bank and scream at the teller, it is important to practice assertiveness if a problem occurs. Ask the following questions if you notice that the auto-pay option has failed:
- Why did this error occur?
- Has anyone taken action to repair it?
- How can I ensure that this problem will not happen again? Can I trust you with my finances?
- If the error hurt my credit, will you draft a letter to the bureaus and explain the circumstances?
- If I incurred fees and penalties due to the error, will you reimburse the costs?
If you value personal responsibility, you should expect the same qualities within your bank or creditor. Do they serve as an advocate for good credit, or is their business structure a catalyst for credit repair? The list above will help you find the answer. If your online payments are constantly failing, it may be time to take your money elsewhere.
3. Consider your priorities.
Considering the benefits of automatic bill payment is all about perspective. Organization is the cornerstone of a healthy credit score. While the average online payment produces favorable results, consider the dangers of a less-than-reliable system. Ask yourself, How does the price of convenience affect my:
- Ability to secure credit at a good rate
- Recommend me to future lenders, employers, insurance companies, etc.
- Ability to effectively pursue the type of future I want
- Level of stress and lifestyle
The bottom line: Modern-day shortcuts are only convenient if they work. Don’t place your credit report in the hands of a faulty system. Tread lightly into the future and remember the tried-and-true methods of the past.