Consumer Tips for Automated Banking
How to avoid getting ripped off through fines and small details
Bill Hardekopf, Author of the Credit Card Guidebook
October 21, 2010Banks have aggressively pushed their customers to online automated banking, even charging more for paper statements. Automated payments and online banking work well and are convenient, as long as banks can assure customers that their money is safe and their accounts are secure.
However, if the system goes awry, it can cause significant problems for consumers.
Recently, the Chase online banking system had a service outage and was down for three days, leaving 16 million customers without access to their account.
An outage of this size is uncommon, but it is a good reminder for all of us to have a back-up plan, to keep a personal record of account information. A lost credit card or a stolen wallet can be just as damaging if you don’t have a record of all bills you’ve set up for automatic payment.
Many consumers use credit and debit cards for automatic bill payments. This is a system that typically runs smoothly and on schedule but also makes it easy to forget about the merchants and bills you are paying. If you must replace a card or an account number is changed, these bills aren’t automatically transferred to the new account. It is up to you to immediately contact each merchant and vendor with the new card information to avoid interruption. Keep a record of the name and phone number for every person, business, bill or loan that is paid with an online payment.
A late notice, accumulating fines, or terminated service may be your first notification that a bill was not paid. Missed payments can cost much more than a late fee. These problems can negatively affect your credit score. Making a record of accounts to pay is a small hassle, but there may be a time when you are glad you did. Scrambling to fix it after you are delinquent on the payment is too late.
For Chase customers, several days without account access was an anxious time for those that had bills to pay. Even though Chase will refund any late fees incurred during the delay, the bank cannot repair the credit scores that may drop after the late payments.
It is also possible that account information may have been corrupted.
Chase customers should look carefully at their account for lost transactions, incorrect account balances, missed deposits, and missed payments.
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